Blueberries get a $3.9 million + boost with a multi-disciplinary, multi-institution project based right here in PSM with Dr Tim Miles

Dr Tim Miles and team take on biggest blueberry project ever

Blueberries get a $3.9 million + boost with a multi-disciplinary, multi-institution project based right here in PSM with Dr. Timothy Miles 

Blueberries are lucrative yet long-term investment, in which demand is high and supply is subject to the caprices of climate and a host of biological assaults. Dr Timothy Miles has assembled a team of researchers and extension specialists and educators who work in states that represent approximately 75% of the blueberry industry in the U.S., accounting for up to 5% of total fruit production value and dominating global production.

MSU Blueberry Team with the Michigan Blueberry Commission during an on campus visit in October of 2022. These types of meetings facilitated the development of this USDA-SCRI project

The goals of the project are based on feedback obtained directly from the stakeholders, Timothy said. “This team is highly skilled in in translating lab generated knowledge to field application.” The outreach strategy includes online videos, extension meetings, webinars, and updates to the statewide blueberry management guides (e.g., Michigan Fruit Management Guide). “The overall goal is to improve blueberry fruit rot control and fruit quality in an integrated manner.”

Constructed with a whole-industry approach, this project involves a team of experts in small fruit pathology, horticulture, agricultural economics, and agricultural engineering: building on significant experience in the blueberry industry, with potential benefits across the blueberry industry that could span into other areas of specialty crop production at economical (1), social (2), and environmental (3) levels which involves a systems approach to blueberry fruit quality. “It’s a systems approach that will ultimately benefit of a wide audience in the specialty crop community,” Timothy said.

I think this proposal was successful," Timothy Miles said, "because we had a lot of industry buy-in and the team we built is interdisciplinary with many novel ideas. I am most proud of the fact that we have a diverse group of scientists on this grant which bring many ideas together to improve blueberry fruit quality. This is coming back to a beloved project for me because I received my PhD on blueberry anthracnose and that is one of the major target diseases of this grant.


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