British Columbia blueberry shipments are taking a hit this summer due to weather factors adversely affecting quality, as well as a labor shortage.
Caution is urged when loading the fruit due to possible rain related quality issues. Shipments normally last through September.
Westberry Farms of Abbotsford, B.C. reports blueberry growers in Canada’s British Columbia are facing serious challenges as poor weather and labor shortages have created difficult conditions for harvesting.
The harvest started in mid-July and producers have struggled to salvage their fruit and maintain normal production levels. B.C. blueberry shipments are forecast down significantly from 200 million pounds in 2019. While it may be hard to predict how low volumes may end up, weather-related issues from cool and wet weather along with serious flooding in some fields along the Fraser River have made it difficult for picking machines to get out and harvest.
Fraser Berry Farms has expressed concerns about the quality of fruit from excessive rainfall.
British Columbia’s blueberry industry has more than 25,000 acres in production and demands large amounts of labor. The Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Grower’s organization, has made labor availability few and far between. A dip in the workforce of more than 50 percent – especially for handpicking – has created real problems.