Flocks of birds terrorize Florida blueberry crop

05/02/2012 03:08:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

The warmer than normal winter accelerated maturities.

Instead of harvesting close to the record 22 million pounds they picked last year, growers as of late April had harvested 12 million pounds.

Braswell said growers tell him most of the crop is done and said he thinks growers will be lucky to harvest around 16 million pounds.

Production south of Interstate 4 finished April 27, and north Florida, which normally ends by mid-May, may finish in early May.

While growers usually keep picking until Georgia’s larger volume knocks prices down, Braswell said he’s not seeing such price pressure this year despite Georgia harvesting a million pounds a day.

He quoted $20-25 for flats of 12 6-ounce clamshells from Florida, similar to what the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported for south Georgia.

Typically, growers don’t harvest all their crop and it’s not unheard of them to leave about 20% on the bush.

But not this year when growers say they’ll likely try to pick every berry.

Other growers say the warmer winter blurred and unified the distinct north and south Florida deals.

North and south Florida harvests normally finish by May 20.

Hopefully, this season won’t be one for the birds.

dohlemeier@thepacker.com

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