Blueberries in Ukraine will not suffer from possible frosts – expert opinion

In light of the recent report on abnormally early flowering of blueberries in Poland, where certain varieties of this berry crop flowered four weeks earlier than usual. His research focused on assessing the severity of a similar phenomenon and its potential impact on the blueberry harvest, particularly in the context of spring frosts.

Although the situation in Ukraine regarding early flowering of blueberries is not as critical as in Poland, it still deserves attention. Summarizing the responses of market participants, the progress with respect to the average flowering dates of several years ranges between 10 and 18 days. However, in the eastern regions of Ukraine, progress is approaching four weeks, mirroring the situation in Poland. In particular, there are variations depending on the growing region, with slightly less progress being observed in the more eastern areas. However, even in northern Ukraine, flowering could begin soon, causing real concerns among growers.

Farmers in Ukraine unanimously recognize the threat posed by spring frosts. Some are already taking precautionary measures to safeguard their blueberry crops. These measures include inter-row heating techniques, treatment with specialized agents that improve resistance to low temperatures and the use of water cannons.

Experts highlight the unique natural defense mechanism provided by the structure of the blueberry flower. During flowering, the berry can withstand short drops in air temperature below zero. Sergii Zmiichuk de Fruitech, commenting on the publication of Andriy Yarmak en Facebook, recalled a past experience where they encountered -4°C during flowering without significant damage. “The bell-shaped floral structure, by design, allows water in the petals to freeze and release heat, which is then retained under the dome, protecting against freezing,” Sergii said.

Interestingly, the main losses of blueberries in Ukraine occur during the winter period, mainly not due to extremely low temperatures, but due to fluctuations when vegetation resumes in winter, as noted Viktor Farafonov. “As for spring frosts, this crop has a 'self-defense' mechanism due to the morphological characteristics of the floral structure, as noted above, as well as the long flowering period. If we add technological practices such as irrigation and the use of fog generators, crop losses will be minimal.

Perhaps there will be a drop in prices in the initial ripening period of early varieties, where we compete with southern European countries.

But there will definitely not be any disaster,” said the experienced sector professional.

Blueberries are increasingly vital for Ukrainian horticulture. Last year they surpassed apples in terms of export earnings. In 2024, if there are no natural disasters or major crop losses, we can expect another record export of Ukrainian blueberries.

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