Austria: Container- blueberry cultivation increases production
July 26, 2015

Summertime is also cultivated-blueberry time. The sweet blueberries are in season from June until September in Mid-Europe. Markus Unger is a young entrepreneur and, under the brand Beerenstoak, is growing cultivated blueberries in the Austrian Steiermark. What makes him unique is that Markus Unger grows his cultivated blueberries in large buckets.stoak2

“We are growing our cultivated blueberries in so-called containers, because the soil conditions are not entirely optimal,” Markus Unger explains. In nature, blueberry bushes grow in bog meadows and in the undergrowth of light bog woods. “However, we have determined that our growing method has a positive effect on the yield,” Unger proudly describes. “Our growth is stronger and more steady”.

Unger came across the idea of the cultivated blueberries during a trip to New Zealand. “In the winter of 2007 I flew to New Zealand with a number of colleagues. We actually wanted to learn about ecologically growing apples”, the young entrepreneur explains. “It was in New Zealand that we got to know a company with cultivated blueberries, and we were instantly fascinated.”

Markus Unger began with three hectares of acreage. “In the meantime, we have expanded our acreage to nine hectares,” he explains. He expects around 10 tons of blueberries per hectare. “The weather conditions are good for cultivation,” the managing director of Beerenstoak describes. “Through special cultivation, our plants only need a bit more water than under normal circumstances.”

Unger completely protects his blueberry bushes with hail nets. “We have protected our blueberry culture against birds through use of a cage system. Furthermore, two thirds of the plants are under foil, so that our plants and fruits do not get too much rain.”

The harvest at Unger takes place between mid-July and mid-October. “I am responsible for the late season. My colleague harvests the early blueberries and has been busy for the last week,” Unger explains. The blueberries are all marketed through Kronprinz Fruchthandels GmbH. From there, Beerenstoak's cultivated blueberries to go to the food retail traders. Additionally, smaller quantities are  exported abroad.


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