The learning curve is steep for growing the superfruit, but at least growers have a forum like the upcoming International Blueberry Organization (IBO) Summit to share their experiences and plan for the future.
The event will run from Sept. 20-22 in a joint conference held between Concordia, Argentina and Salto, Uruguay.
Valle y Pampa general manager Miguel Bentin will be participating in a panel during the summit to discuss ways Southern Hemisphere growers can work together to improve the category and supply to the leading northern markets.
He tells www.freshfruitportal.com the Peruvian blueberry industry has come a long way since Valle y Pampa planted its first experimental crop for the fruit in 2010.
“In 2014 we planted 30 hectares, and mid-2015 we did an expansion of 10 hectares, so now we have 45 hectares installed,” Bentin says.
“We explored, like almost everyone, with Biloxi in the first few years and then we started looking at other varieties to see the particular strengths. The new varieties we’re trying in our fields are Emerald, Spring High and Ventura.
“The initial performance of the varieties is very good, but we can’t do a very just analysis because we’ve committed all the mistakes one could commit with Biloxi, so in the new varieties we haven’t made the same mistakes in the young plantations so a comparison would be difficult.”
Having learned from those mistakes, he adds the young Biloxi blueberry trees are in much better health than the ones planted earlier.
“That’s only because of the greater experience and the lessons of the past.
“The IBO in general is a benefit for us as a country because we are young growers and we can share experiences with other industries that have been around a lot longer, that are more consolidated.
“But in particular this edition is very interesting because it’ll naturally focus on production from the Southern Hemisphere, and together with other growing regions from South America we’ll be able to try to exchange experiences and find a way to consolidate at a regional level.”
He says this will help contribute to raising blueberry demand and making the most of the fruit’s upside in a “healthy way”.
As for the upcoming season, he says his company and other growers are so far content with the state of the fruit.
“There are two blocks – there is the block entering in its third year, and there are also the new plantings, so there’s a combination of two things.
“Growth will be something close to 100% compared to the previous year, so it’s a lot of growth but not as high as before because there aren’t as many young plants.”
Fresh Fruit Portal