Georgia Blueberry Shipments to be Reduced by Freeze

Georgia Blueberry Shipments to be Reduced by Freeze

DSCN4478During the past decade Georgia has become a leading shipper of blueberries, but a recent freeze has raised concerns about volume for the upcoming season.

Estimates vary on how many South Georgia blueberries were damaged during a series of late February freezes, but much of the confusion is due to numerous micro climates that exist in the growing areas.

The freezes hit February 17-20 and during the early morning hours of February 20, temperatures fell into the low 20s for several hours in the Alma, Baxley, and Homerville, Ga., blueberry growing regions, damaging the early season part of the southern highbush crop.

Damage estimates range from 10 to 40 percent.

Georgia harvests and ships two blueberry crops.

Southern highbush blueberry shipments start in mid- to late April while the rabbit eye shipments usually begin in late May.  Some growers ran frost protection because of the cold temperatures, resulting in ice damaging many limbs.  Losses were higher for growers that didn’t irrigate.

It appears now Georgia “blues” may start shipping up to two weeks later – in late April.

Last year, Georgia shipped 56 million pounds of fresh berries, up from the 32 million shipped in 2013.

Homerville, which normally starts shipping around April 10 with an early variety, may not start loadings  until April 20, with Alma and Baxley set to begin closer to May 1.

Otherwise, Georgia produce shipments are pretty quite right now with about the only loadings being with limited amounts of greens and carrots….Certainly no straight loads here.  If you are coming out of Florida, you might pick up a pallet or two on your way north.