U.S. growers expect strong blueberry season
May 9, 2019

The domestic blueberry season was kicking off in mid-April with harvesting already underway in Georgia, said Victoria De Bruin, marketing manager for the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

“We are just starting the season and have a long way to go,” she said.

The North Carolina harvest was expected to begin in early May, and California should reach peak harvest at the end of May or beginning of June.

The New Jersey harvest was expected to start in mid-June, and Indiana should have an average crop starting sometime from mid-June to the end of the month.    

Oregon was into full bloom, and the crop looks “promising,” De Bruin said.

“Harvest is anticipated at the end of June.” 

Washington’s harvest also was expected to start at the end of June and last until early to mid-September.

Michigan will wrap up the domestic deal with harvesting starting at the beginning of July and lasting until September. 

Naturipe Berry Growers, Salinas, Calif., offers blueberries year-round, said Craig Moriyama, director of berry operations.

The company should be “going full steam” out of central California growing areas like Delano and Bakersfield by the first week of May, he said.

Although cool weather held up the start of the crop, volume was picking up in April as conditions improved.

California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, expected its Georgia crop to be winding down in early May, when the company will switch to California.

“The (California) crop looks really good,” said Cindy Jewell, vice president of marketing.

The company’s blueberry volume should be similar to last year, she said. Picking should continue in California through June.

Manor, Ga.-based J&B Blueberry Farms Inc. was picking blueberries in mid-April, a little earlier than usual because of the mild winter, said Jason Cornelius, farm manager and owner of Cornelius and Sons Farms.

The crop should go until early July, perhaps finishing a little earlier because of the early start.

The biggest issue in Georgia as the season began was getting enough workers under the federal government’s H-2A program to pick the berries, Cornelius said.

In New Jersey, grower Dennis Doyle, chairman of the Hammonton-based New Jersey Blueberry Advisory Council, expected picking to start June 15 and continue until Aug. 15.

“The crop is progressing quite well,” he said in mid-April. “The workers are in the field getting things done.”

Blueberry volume could be down in some established fields in Oregon this season because of a hot and dry summer last year, said Dave Martin, crop advisor for Curry & Co. Inc., Brooks, Ore.