Blueberries and blackberries should be available in promotable volumes for the Fourth of July, said Keith Mixon, president and chief executive officer of SunnyRidge Farm Inc., Winter Haven, Fla.
Mixon said Sunny Ridge shipped blueberries and blackberries from Florida the week of May 16, and the company also started its blueberry harvest in North Carolina that week. SunnyRidge’s blueberry harvest in North Carolina is expected to continue into the second week in July, with blackberry harvest in the Tar Heel State expected to run June 10 through September.
Mixon said blueberries likely will be on ad with retailers for the Fourth of July and recommended retailers cross-promote the berries with other holiday items.
“Fourth of July is a big blueberry time,” Mixon said.
“We’ll have weekly promotions for blueberries and blackberries with different retailers. Quality is excellent right now. Blueberries in the Southeast have been excellent, and volumes are good, though there aren’t as many as there could be.”
Phil Neary, director of operations and grower relations for Sunny Valley International Inc., Glassboro, N.J., the sales agent for Jersey Fruit Cooperative Association Inc., Glassboro, said strong winds and heavy rains during an April storm and some pollination issues resulted in a blueberry crop that was about 15% less than what he had expected in North Carolina.
Neary said Sunny Valley will shift its blueberry production to New Jersey, where a good crop is expected, in mid-June.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture had not established a price for North Carolina blueberries as of May 17. In Florida, where the season was winding down, flats with 12 one-pint cups were $20-22.
Apples and peaches in the region won’t be ready by July 4, but there should be ample supply for Labor Day, said Kurt Schweitzer, president of Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc., Greencastle, Pa.
Schweitzer said Keystone expects to begin harvesting peaches in late July in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He said the company expects to have significant volume within 12 days after the start of harvest, which should run into mid-September.
“Labor Day is very big for peaches and apples,” he said. “It’s a big holiday period.”
Schweitzer said Keystone added acreage and expects a good, full crop of peaches. The company distributes the fruit to customers in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest.
“All the markets are within 10 hours,” he said, “so it’s local and very fresh.”