High-yielding new blueberry varieties offset lost acreage

09/12/2011 01:00:00 AM
Tara Schupner

Janice Honigberg, president of Washington, D.C.-based Sun Belle Inc., said that some varieties have been taken out entirely, while some growers have sold or leased their land.

“Over time, many growers have replaced older varieties with newer, early varieties with better yields,” she said. “There are also a number of varieties which are being tested. Much of the acreage of our growers consists of newer varieties.”

Being early is important for Argentina because growers want to stay clear of the considerable volume of Chile, which overlaps with the tail end of Argentina’s season.

Mixon said Argentina’s peak volume ships by air cargo between Oct. 31 and the end of November. Chilean fruit, which ships by boat, begins arriving at U.S. ports by Dec. 1, and volume intensifies around Christmas.

“Flying fruit is a pricey exercise,” Mixon said. “The cost of freight is high compared to Chilean fruit shipped by boat. But Argentina’s peak volume comes in a four-week period when there isn’t much competition. They don’t want to wait for Chilean fruit to start arriving.”

In addition to increased yields and proper timing, Eric Crawford, president of Fresh Results LLC, said that newer varieties such as Emerald are crunchier, sweeter and larger than the varieties that are being phased out.

“These varieties perform well at retail,” he said. “They travel well. They look nice at retail, and demand is increasing.”


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