Every summer, blueberry lovers everywhere await the arrival of this sweet Georgia crop.Some of them, willing to pay a little extra, don’t wait that long.”Southern highbush blueberries ripen in April and May,” said Gerard Krewer, ahorticulturist with the University of Georgia Extension Service.Rabbiteye blueberries, the type grown most in Georgia, mature mostly in June and July.Georgia has around 4,000 acres of blueberries — more than any other Southern state.But only about 5 percent are the highbush type. So the blueberry supply is slim inApril and May. That makes prices high, on both domestic and export markets. It also makesthe lure of growing highbush berries strong.But Southern highbush blueberries don’t grow just anywhere.”They usually grow well only on certain soils that are high in organic matter buthave a well-drained topsoil,” Krewer said. “There’s only a very limited acreageof this type of soil in Georgia.”Growers with the more common soil types have found two options. One is to plant them insoil highly amended with peat moss or milled pine bark and mulched with four inches ofpine bark nuggets.The other method calls for planting directly into beds of four to six inches of milledpine bark. This high-density system is “very promising,” Krewer said.”Both methods work well,” he said, “but the plants have grown best whengrown directly in milled pine bark.”The high-density system calls for beds 30 feet wide with 10-foot aisles between them.The bushes are planted in rows across the beds, like the rungs of a ladder. Growers canspray down the rows of bushes from the aisles.Begun in Florida three years ago, the system requires daily watering. And since pinebark doesn’t hold nutrients well, growers must fertilize the beds every three to fourweeks during the growing season.The plants’ roots stay in the pine bark, Krewer said. But they don’t seem to blow downany worse than plants in soil. That’s apparently because they grow such dense mats ofintermingled roots.Southern highbush blueberry plants won’t do well if they’re too wet or too dry, hesaid. The pine bark system works well because there’s so much pine bark per plant — atnormal spacings, nearly 40 gallons per plant.”You can grow a mighty big plant in a 40-gallon pot,” Krewer said.Because the system is so much like a nursery, growers can plant even rooted cuttings inthe beds. And the plants grow fast.One grower near Valdosta, with just over an acre of high-density beds, grew plants fromrooted cuttings to bushes three to four feet high in about six months.The daily watering and narrow spacing present problems for southern highbush plants,since they’re susceptible to disease. Growers must use a regular program of fungicidesprays to keep the bushes healthy.Krewer said a small number of Georgia growers planted about nine acres of high-densityblueberries this year.It’s a costly system to put in — $10,000 per acre or more. But the returns comequicker than with other blueberry systems. Growers should begin harvesting berries inApril of the second year. They should get full harvests in the third year or fourth year.And they should get premium prices for their early-season harvests. The growing numberof people able to buy those early berries will figure it money well spent.
“We will allow for extraordinary train travel for individuals who are exempt from the government’s restriction as stipulated [by the COVID-19 task force] under strict health protocol,” PT KAI spokesperson Joni Martinus said in a press release on Sunday.All trains would operate at a passenger load factor of no more than 50 percent to promote physical distancing, Joni added.Tickets are available for purchase at train stations starting Monday and passengers can purchase tickets seven days prior to departure.However, passengers must provide a permit from the COVID-19 task force in order to travel. They are also required to show negative COVID-19 test results, an official letter of duty, a personal ID and a letter explaining their purpose of travel, among other documents. State-owned train operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (PT KAI) is scheduled to open three temporary routes to accommodate travel starting Tuesday after travel restrictions for certain individuals were relaxed.For the operation, which starts Tuesday and ends on May 31, the company will run three temporary routes connecting Gambir Station in Jakarta, Pasarturi Station in Surabaya, East Java, and Bandung Station, West Java.The routes include the Gambir Station-Pasarturi Station northern line, Gambir Station-Pasarturi Station southern line and Bandung Station-Pasarturi Station line. Topics : To contain the virus, the government is currently restricting all types of passenger travel under Transportation Ministerial Regulation No. 25/2020 as part of its ban on the Idul Fitri mudik (exodus).However, the national COVID-19 task force issued a circular on May 6 exempting state officials, private sector workers and state-owned enterprise (SOE) employees from the government’s ban on travel to and from virus red zones.Several Indonesian airlines have also resumed domestic passenger flights, which are scheduled to be reopened gradually this month in accordance with the task force’s new regulation.Garuda Indonesia officially resumed domestic passenger flights on Thursday after previously suspending them in compliance with the government’s large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).Members of the Lion Air Group – Lion Air, Wings Air and Batik Air – resumed domestic passenger flights on Sunday, with tickets available for purchase at the company’s counters, call-centers and websites.All airlines will require passengers to provide ground staff with medical letters from hospitals stating that they do not have COVID-19.