Chile: Project for the production of new blueberry varieties for undercover farming

The Faculty of Agronomy of the UdeC will develop a project related to the production of new blueberry varieties for undercover farming.

"We are thinking about premium quality varieties and we are conducting an adaptation study of a variety that is characterized by good firmness and quality, among other characteristics. We also seek to develop technological packages for the management of these varieties. We will also seek to develop a technological model of production of these varieties, so we will identify the best coverage for these varieties in the south of Chile, since producers don't have this information. We still don't have a blueberry production model for undercover farming. There is a lot of isolated testing, but there is no adequate low investment model that generates important benefits. The idea of undercover farming is to reduce the stress that the heat, cold, and extreme rains produce on the fruits. We will try different types of materials in order to establish which material is suitable for hot and cold conditions and hopefully in a system design that allows harvesting the fruit undercover, which would imply a competitive advantage," stated Dr. Bastias, of the Department of Plant Production of the Faculty of Agronomy of the UdeC.

The experts of the Faculty of Agronomy will work on two issues, the varieties and undercover farming, and will focus on three research lines.

The first one is related to the physiology and the productive management of the new varieties under different covering materials, which will be analyzed by Dr. Richard Bastias. The second line of research focuses on the water requirements required for these productive models, that is, the irrigation protocols; a subject that will be developed by Dr. Arturo Calderon. Meanwhile, Dr. Gonzalo Silva will focus on the third line of research, a study of the population of pests and their behavior in these new varieties and growing conditions.

"We started the project in July this year. We have hired two agronomists who work in the fields, Gustavo Soto and Esteban Gonzalez, and we are already installing experimental units. We have two units, one is in Maule Sur and the other in La Araucania Norte. We have also acquired excellent equipment to effectively develop our project, which will last six years," said Dr. Bastias.

Another interesting point of the Technology Program (PTEC) is that it seeks to generate advanced human capital, which is why the UdeC will be training specialists. "Our university, together with the Catholic University and the INIA, are offering eight masters and/or doctoral trainings in the area and we, the UdeC, want to train three professionals at this postgraduate level."

Source: SimFRUIT/UdeC

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