Florida Blueberry Producers Enjoying ‘Good Production’

Clint ThompsonBlueberries, Florida

By Clint Thompson

Florida blueberry growers have enjoyed a prosperous season so far, though that prosperity could come to a halt once neighboring states start harvesting their crop. That could soon be the case, explains Doug Phillips, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) blueberry Extension coordinator.

“I think it’s been good production. A number of folks I’ve talked to have gotten a good bit of their fruit off. I have heard that Georgia is going to be coming to the market maybe starting this week or next; after which point, of course, prices historically start to drop,” Phillips said. “Everybody is trying to get as much fruit off as they can before that happens. Production wise, it’s been a good season.

“Another nice thing too, birds were such a problem last year, wax wings. I have barely seen any across the state (this year). I don’t know if it’s a different migratory pattern or what, but that’s also helped.”

Maybe the best part about this year’s harvest has been the weather conditions. Good weather has allowed growers to pick their fruit in a timely fashion. The lack of rainfall has also enabled fruit to mature without the threat of diseases.

“If by good weather we mean drier weather, the good thing is it doesn’t interrupt your picking schedule, so the fruit’s not staying on the bush longer than it should. It also means that you’ve got less disease pressure in terms of like anthracnose fruit rot. It tends to be more prevalent when you’ve got really wet conditions in the field. Those two things are probably the biggest advantage of having dry, sunny weather during harvest,” Phillips said.