Following 2 years of weather-related disappointing seasons, Southeastern blueberry shipments should more normal this season.
In March 2018 frosts hit fruit that had an early set due to a warmer than usual winter.
J&B Blueberry Farms Inc. of Manor, GA., picked only 200,000 pounds last season, off, down from the usual 1.25 million pounds of fresh blueberries from 170 acres.
Barring a late frost, the company expects a more typical harvest beginning about April 15th, with peak shipment coming in May before the season winds down in late June or early July.
Last season was the second in a row for low volume for Swain Foods of Patterson, GA. Production fell to 150,000 pounds last year. The grower-shipper markets fruit from a total of about 250 acres which includes his own farm as well as other growers.
Swain Foods expects to ship over 1 million pounds of fruit this season, beginning around the end of April, with highbush peaking in the first two weeks of May and rabbiteye in mid-June. The season should wrap up by mid-July.
In 2018, Georgia shipped 50 million pounds; 30 million in 2017 and 67 million in 2016.
The volumes are much less compared to 2015’s 85 million pounds.
Alma (GA) Nursery & Berry Farms, shipped only 700,000 pounds of fresh berries and 1 million pounds for the frozen market last year.
This season, the company looks to move 2.5 million pounds of fresh highbush and rabbiteye berries and 600,000 pounds of frozen fruit from about 400 acres. Shipments should start about April 5th, with peak loading coming around May 12th and the first week in June, before completing the season in late June.
If the weather cooperates, Alma Nursey & Berry Farms expects Georgia as a whole to ship around 100 million pounds of berries this season.
Florida Blueberry Shipments
Naturipe Farms of Grand Junction, MI has operations in Florida and started harvest the first half of March and ich.-based Naturipe Farms expects to start limited harvesting around March 11, loadings are now at a peak.
Wish Farms Inc. of Plant City, FL expects to ship about 4 million pounds this year from the 600 acres working with about 19 contract growers.
Harvest started in mid-March with peak shipments occurring the first week to 10 days of April. Blueberries picked and shipped north of Gainesville, FL should continue until Memorial Day.
Crystal Valley Foods, Miami, FL. was importing Chilean blueberries which overlapped a little with its new season for Florida berries. The company will be shipping Florida fruit through May. The company will be handling Georgia blueberries from April through June or early July, and Alabama product from May through June.