Blueberry plantings in Australia commenced in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Blueberries were first introduced into Australia in the mid 1970s due, in part, to the vision and enthusiasm of the late Margaret Tucker and also to the input of the Knox Agricultural Research Station in Victoria and its enthusiasts Karel Kroon and Ridley Bell. At this time the industry consisted mainly of hobby farmers with little knowledge of the complexity of blueberry growing.
During the early stages of the Australian blueberry industry, production was limited, consisting of an annual production of 70 tons over a two month season.
Commercial production of blueberries begun in the mid-1980s, during this time the majority of the industry was situated on the far north coast of NSW.
In 2004, the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, produced over 70% of Australia’s blueberries. Production in the southern Australia, including Tasmania, is increasing, although farms tend to be much smaller.
Today the Australian blueberry growers demographic consists of newcomers to the industry, small to medium size grower commercial farms, retirement ventures and hobby farms. There is a considerable interest in organic production.
The industry is separated into climatic areas; high chill varieties and low chill varieties. The Northern Highbush blueberry with its higher requirement of winter chilling, is the blueberry grown in the southern states of Australia. The harvest season of the High Bush blueberry extends from December through to March and has an average production of 350 tons annually.
Low chill varieties are found in the mild climates of Australia and make up 80% of the Australian industry. Low chill blueberries are grown in Northern NSW and Southern Queensland. With a season that extends from July through to February, the annual production of low chill varieties in Australia consists of 1500 tons.
Due to the success of research and development, the Australian blueberry industry consistently supplies fruit for ten months of the year. The Australian blueberry industry has an annual production of 2300 tons from 420 hectares of blueberries.
The ABGA’s President is Greg McCulloch