Florida berry production bounces back
March 31, 2017

Good growing conditions this season for blueberries and strawberries should provide buyers with an outstanding supply for April promotions, marketers say.


Florida grows low chill varieties of blueberries. A small amount is harvested in February, with larger volumes March through June.

“The main window is April and May, when Chile stops importing,” said Dudley Calfee, president of the Florida Blueberry Growers Association, Brooksville, Fla.

“The outlook this year is very positive, especially when compared to last year,” said Mario Flores, director of blueberry product management for Naturipe Farms LLC, Salinas, Calif.

“We’ve bounced back well — it’s as good as two years ago.”

Last season, a lack of chill hours in November and December, followed by a cold spring, led to a late crop with low volume.

Flores said Naturipe grows in central and northern Florida, with production overlaps to maintain a continuous harvest.

“Promotional opportunities kick in early to mid-April,” Flores said.

Naturipe expects to start harvesting 10 days earlier this year, Flores said, with organic berries on the same schedule.

Al Finch, president of Florida Classic Growers, the marketing arm of Dundee Citrus Growers Association, Dundee, Fla., said the company is beginning to harvest.

“This is our second year with blueberries,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of interest from our retail and foodservice partners.”

He expects the company’s berries to hit promotable volume the first week of April.

The Packer