This year's short course will be a mini-series

consisting of 1-1.5 hours each.

We are excited to still offer the same content that is critical to our growers, ranging from growing and horticultural practices, pest and diseases, as well as pollination and industry updates.

Event Speakers

Doug Phillips

Blueberry Extension Coordinator, University of Florida

Presentation Topic: 2020 End of Season Survey Summary

Responsibilities include acting as the primary point of contact for commercial blueberry growers throughout Florida, and as a liaison between growers and University of Florida researchers; assisting with the resolution of production, disease, and pest issues; providing feedback to UF researchers on grower issues; assisting with the evaluation of trial selections at central and south-central Florida breeding program trial sites; and authoring publications related to blueberry production issues.

Patricio Munoz

Assistant Professor, Blueberry Breeding and Genomics, University of Florida

Presentation Topic: New Southern Highbush Cultivar Release and Breeding Program Update

Patricio Munoz is the Assistant Professor of Blueberry Breeding and Genomics in the Horticultural Science Department at the University of Florida. Dr. Muñoz research focuses on two areas. First, the improvement of cultivars for Florida and the Southern US with focus on Highbush blueberries since 2017 and Forage species from 2013-2017. And second, on the development of models, techniques, and strategies to accelerate the development of improved varieties using traditional breeding, quantitative genetics, genomic, and molecular methods.

Yang Fang

PhD Student, Blueberry Breeding and Genomics, University of Florida

Presentation Topic: Southern Highbush Blueberry Container Production

Yang Fang - Yang is a PhD student in the blueberry breeding program. Her research is focused on southern highbush blueberry container-based evergreen production and root system architecture screening.

Mike Joyner

President, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association

Presentation Topic: Legislative Update

Mike Joyner’s experience in agricultural and environmental issues runs deep. He previously served as assistant commissioner of agriculture and chief of staff for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, helping to lead the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for almost eight years. Before that, Joyner represented clients throughout Florida and the United States before the Florida Legislature and state regulatory agencies. He also served in public affairs and environmental affairs positions for The St. Joe Company and Progress Energy (now Duke Energy) and worked as chief of staff for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

General Meeting

Brittany Lee, Ryan Atwood, Bobby Barben & Leonard Park


James Meszaros

Executive Vice President, International, Weber Shandwick

Presentation Topic: A Review of the Pending 201 Investigation

James Meszaros is Executive Vice President at Powell Tate in Washington. For more than two decades, he has advised clients in 30+ countries worldwide, including sovereign governments, multinational corporations, industry coalitions, multilateral organizations, foundations and civil society organizations. His public affairs work has been undertaken in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific regions. His specialties include providing geopolitical counsel, public policy analysis, messaging and speechwriting, stakeholder relations and political and economic forecasting. He has issue expertise in geopolitics, trade, cross-border investment, intellectual property rights, global development, agriculture and food security, sustainability, climate, human rights and globalization. Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, Jim was a self-employed international consultant. He is a graduate of Marquette University and has been to more than 75 countries for business and person travel.

Peter Dittmar

Associate Professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida

Presentation Topic: Improving control of problematic weeds in blueberry

Dr. Peter Dittmar’s research and Extension program focuses on weed management in fruit and vegetable crops. His interests include the inclusion of herbicides into integrated weed management programs. He is also works with the IR4 Project registering pesticides in specialty crops.

Philip Harmon

Professor, Plant Pathology Department, University of Florida

Presentation Topic: Blueberry Disease Update

Philip F. Harmon is a professor of plant pathology and extension specialist. He received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees from Purdue University. His research interests include diseases of warm season turfgrass species and disease management for southern highbush blueberry. In addition to providing efficient and effective disease management strategies for clientele, additional research goals include selection for turfgrass and blueberry disease resistance in collaboration with plant breeding programs.

His extension efforts have focused on providing rapid and accurate diagnostic services to the turfgrass, small fruits, and ornamental plant industries. Recommendations given as part of diagnostic services include practical, research based, disease management solutions. He has served as an assigning editor for Plant Disease Management Reports and as an associate editor of Applied Turfgrass Science.

Jeff Williamson

Professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida

Presentation Topic: Research update on the use of hydrogen cyanamide in Florida blueberries

The primary emphasis of Jeff's research is to increase efficiencies and profitability of cropping systems for early-season blueberry in sub-tropical and tropical climates. Recent areas of research interest include plant growth regulators, rootstock evaluation, fertilization/soil management, crop water requirements, pruning, and mechanical harvest for fresh fruit production. He serves as state Extension specialist for blueberry and co-editor for the Blueberry News and board member for the Florida Blueberry Growers’ Association.

Gerardo Nunez

Assistant Professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, University of Florida

Presentation Topic: Seasonal Root Growth Patterns in Southern Highbush Blueberry

The Nunez Lab at the University of Florida is a creative space where students develop research, cultivation, and communication skills while performing rigorous scientific research in horticultural plant physiology and nutrition. We employ a combination of agricultural, biochemical, and ‘omics’ approaches to answer agriculturally-relevant questions about berry crops.

Rachel Mallinger

Assistant Professor, Pollinator Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida

Presentation Topic: Blueberry Pollination Research Update

Dr. Rachel Mallinger is a pollinator ecologist focusing primarily on native wild bees. She is interested in the basic biology of native wild bees, their response to anthropogenic disturbance, and their role in the pollination of both crop and wild plants. A major focus of her research program is to integrate approaches from landscape ecology and community ecology to better understand pollinator community dynamics and plant-pollinator interactions at multiple spatial scales. She conducts research in a variety of ecosystems, including natural, agricultural and urban, with the overarching goal of informing pollinator conservation and improving pollination services.

Oscar Liburd

Professor and Program Leader, Fruit and Vegetable Entomology, University of Florida

Presentation Topic: Management of Key Insect Pests in Blueberries

Dr. Liburd is a fruit and vegetable entomologist who has over 25 years working on blueberry pest management. He has worked in blueberries in the northeastern, midwestern and southern states and has published over 120 peer-reviewed manuscripts, 14 book chapters and a host of extension articles. Dr. Liburd has received numerous awards including the 2020 Recognition Award from the Entomological Society of America, and 2016  Bright Idea Award from the Southern Region IPM Center.  Dr. Liburd also served as president of the southeastern branch, Entomological Society of America (2018 -2019) and has been an IFAS-Term Professor for two consecutive terms (2017 – 2023).


October 29th • November 5th • November 12th • November 19th

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM (Eastern)

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