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Miini Giizis (Blueberry Moon)

14 July 2009

Steve Olson, FDL Resource Management

FDL  Forestry Program has been using fire to promote and improve blueberry growth.  This year four areas one-half acre to one acre in size were intentionally burned to renew the plants.

Indigenous people held the wild blueberry in very high esteem due to the fact that the blossom end of each blueberry forms a five points star.  It was believed the “Great Spirit” sent these star berries to relieve the hunger of children during a famine.

Why does burning work so well for blueberries?  First the top growth of the plant becomes unproductive after several years.  Burning kills the top and the plant sends up new growth.  This new growth produces more flowers.  Burning also exposes more bare ground allowing the sun to warm it.  The warmer ground stimulates the roots and the plants spread out increasing the cover in the patch making more blueberries. The ash from fire also provides nutrients to fuel the growth.   Burning keeps the trees and brush from shading the blueberries.

Recently, blueberries have been labeled as a “Superfruit” due to its health benefits.  You’ve probably heard of antioxidants. The antioxidants in blueberries fight aging, cancer, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. If you know of areas that may be suitable for blueberry management call Resource Management, 218-878-8001.

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