Organic berries continue to see steady growth

07/20/2012 12:35:00 PM
Tom Burfield

“It’s pretty much ‘demands exceeds’ though the summer,” he said.

Well-Pict uses some of the same growing techniques, such as integrated pest management and bug vacuums, for conventional strawberries that it uses for organic ones, Crowley said.

The firm only uses pesticides on berries “as a last-ditch effort,” he said.

Overall, sales of organic blueberries are on the rise, said Mark Villata, executive director of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsom, Calif.

“It is a growing sector,” he said.

However, growing organic blueberries in parts of Oregon can be a challenge, said Brian Malensky, director of fresh market sales for Oregon Berry Packing Co., Hillsboro.

The large amount of rain that west Oregon receives makes it just about impossible to grow organic blueberries, he said.

“We would love to do it, but a whole year’s crop could be wiped out if we received too much rain,” he said.

Brian Ostlund, executive director for the Oregon Blueberry Commission in Salem, said he has not seen as much growth in the category as he thought he would.

Growers in isolated production areas tend to have more luck keeping diseases and pests at bay and producing a nicer organic crop than those in denser production areas, he said.

He expects the state’s organic acreage to increase over time.


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