U.S.: circumstances conspire against Florida’s blueberry growers
May 28, 2014

Blueberry growers in Florida suffered a modest season this year which began late due to poor weather, and was further hindered due to neighboring Georgia’s strong crop.blueberry_464201531

In an interview with www.freshfruitportal.com, Glover’s Blueberries owner Wayne Glover said colder weather than normal over the last few months had delayed the start of the harvest.

“It was a short season as it came in a little late because of the cool spring,” he said.

The lower temperatures cut down what is typically a brief season anyway in Florida by around a third compared to previous years.

“It’s normally about six weeks, but four of those are the best. If you can get berries from March 20 to April 20 that’s pretty much going to be your season, but we always go a couple more weeks,” Glover said.

“We had about four weeks in total this year. The weather totally affects what’s going on in blueberries.”

Florida’s warmer climate than other parts of the U.S. allows it to be one of the first states in the country to enter the market each season.

“The only reason we can sort of fit into that market is because nobody else is growing at that time,” Glover said.

However, when Georgia’s growers begin to harvest a few weeks later it significantly drives down prices, much because of the sheer volume the state produces.

This year, Florida’s late start was coupled with Georgia’s strong growing season, which added to the Sunshine state’s woes.

“The markets stayed strong right up until the last week. The early market was strong,” Glover said.

“Georgia came in very heavy, all at once. With us it all depends on when Georgia comes in because they have thousands of acres more than Florida does and so the prices really go down.”

Despite the short season, however, Glover reported that the crop size was not greatly affected, while quality and size have been excellent.

“The quality was excellent this year, they were quite large. I guess because we had some rain in the early season they were very big this year,” he said.

Glover’s report on the season was echoed by another Florida grower. Blue Youth Berries owner Carleen Gunter said the wet and cool weather had caused problems, but the quality of her fruit was pleasing despite more difficult circumstances for other growers.

Gunter also said this year’s total crop in the state was only around 13 million pounds, down seven million from normal.

Fresh Fruit Portal