Nov 8, 2022
New small fruit specialist joins MSU

Josh VanderWeide is a new small fruit horticulture specialist with Michigan State University (MSU), with a concentration on blueberry physiology and production.

Introduced at the first annual MSU Blueberry Field Day in August, the assistant professor in MSU’s Horticulture Department said he was becoming acclimated to the campus and the area.

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“I kind of came in the middle of the blueberry season, but was able to squeak out a short experiment, so I’m happy for that,” VanderWeide said.

“My lab is going to focus on a few different aspects of production and physiology,” he said. “Right now, I’m doing some work on advancing ripening with late-arriving cultivars like Elliott, to try and create more market opportunities, reducing the late-season competition with the South American market.”

VanderWeide’s lab will investigate best practices for berry crop production systems, environmental physiology of berry crops and plant growth regulator use in berry crops using physiology and metabolomics techniques.

His MSU appointment consists of 50% research, 35% Extension and 15% teaching.

VanderWeide’s Extension program concerns the production and management of berry crops, with an emphasis on research-based recommendations for blueberry management.

Research findings will be disseminated to the industry through talks, Extension bulletins and events, and trade publications, according to his MSU web page. 

Having recently been a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia, Wine Research Center, VanderWeide received his Ph.D. from MSU’s Department of Horticulture in 2020.

“Coming from a background of winegrape production, I still have a lot to learn about blueberry production, so I’d love to talk with as many (growers) as possible,” he said. “It’s been a steep learning curve this summer, but that’s been great.

“(Having) sort of a blank slate and being able to think about some of these issues in blueberry production kind of offers a fresh perspective.”

— Gary Pullano, Senior FGN Correspondent

Photo: Josh VanderWiede is a new small fruit horticulture specialist with Michigan State University. Photo: Gary Pullano

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