The Smart Orchard – Potential for Blueberries?

While any blueberry grower knows orchards aren’t synonymous with blueberries, there are key similarities between fruit grown in orchards and highbush blueberries. With that in mind, the innovations happening in orchards can potentially have implications for blueberry cultivation. Today, we talk to two experts about the collaborative “Smart Orchard” project taking place in the Pacific Northwest and how it can be applied to blueberry production.

Hosts Kasey Cronquist, president of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) and the North American Blueberry Council (NABC), and Rod Cook, industry veteran and the chair of the Blueberry Technology and Innovation Committee, are joined by Steve Mantle, founder and CEO of, and Ines Hanrahan, Ph.D., executive director at the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. 

“[Growers] need more data, we think, to help better inform how to really start producing at the most potential down the road.” – Steve Mantle

“This is the easiest way to improve your product and to establish yourself in the market … ultimately, the goal is to create and maintain sustainable businesses for our stakeholders. ” – Ines Hanrahan, Ph.D.

Topics covered include: 

  • Backgrounds of Mantle, Hanrahan, and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.
  • How the Smart Orchard project came together in conjunction with the commission.
  • Types of data being collected and how it’s being applied in the field.
  • Creating a dashboard and sharing data that fosters a collaborative industry environment. 

Read more about the Smart Orchard project here

Crop Report

The Blueberry Crop Report is an update on crop conditions and markets throughout North and South America. In this episode, you’ll hear from Juan Soria Morales in Mexico, Bill Steed in California, and Ken Patterson in Florida. This was recorded on April 21, 2021.

Marketing Boost

Creative promotion is what turns blueberry awareness into a blueberry purchase and eventually a blueberry passion, which turns consumers into blueberry enthusiasts. On this week’s Marketing Boost, USHBC/NABC Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jennifer Sparks discusses how blueberry-specific days can help create enthusiasts.