U.S: California blueberry damage ‘not as bad as thought’
April 16, 2018

A California blueberry industry representative says that crop damage this season due to cold weather is not expected to be as severe as many previously thought. 

California Blueberry Commission executive director Alexander Ott said that in late February and early March temperatures in many growing regions dropped to as low as 19ºF (-7ºC), after a relatively warm start to the year.

He had said there would definitely be damage for the early varieties, but on Friday last week he told Fresh Fruit Portal that overall the industry seems to be “in pretty good shape.”

“It looks like the damage was not as big as what we thought,” he said.

“The early varieties were impacted but we anticipate that we’re going to be overall in pretty good shape for the season. So this is good news.”

Ott estimated that around 8-12% of total production was represented by early varieties and explained that the impact on volumes for the season should not be very high.

“So overall, even though the early varieties did get hammered, the total volume was low,” he said.

He said that despite the freeze event the California blueberry industry could end up within the historical average range of 55-65 million pounds. 

Ott also noted that temperatures in the state have been fluctuating quite significantly over the last couple of weeks, and as a result he said it was unclear when the peak volumes could come.

“Our peak usually in May, and that’s the next big question we have as there’s been some pretty interest weather,” he said on Friday.

“Last week it was in the 80s then this week it dropped down to the 60s and next week it’s supposed to be back up in the 80s, so we’re really curious to see how this is going to work in terms of peak harvest.”

He added that Florida and Georgia had also been experiencing weather-related issues which might affect the timing of their peak volume weeks.