Big blackberry crop meets with soft prices - The Packer

Big blackberry crop meets with soft prices

07/27/2009 10:23:05 AM
Don Schrack

Michigan blueberries

Michigan blueberries distributed by SunnyRidge Farm will be available through August and into early September, said Keith Mixon, president.

“The Michigan blueberry season started strong, and we believe we’re shipping the gold standard of Michigan blueberries,” he said.

The company’s blueberry growers in British Columbia will be peaking in early August, he said, and are shipping fruit that rivals the quality of the Michigan deal. In the early fall, SunnyRidge will be importing blueberries from Argentina and Mexican raspberries and blackberries, Mixon said.

The company’s final domestic berry crop of 2009 will be Florida strawberries that Mixon said should hit the market in early November. Some of that fruit will come from the company’s own Florida fields. SunnyRidge also grows in Georgia and Mexico, Mixon said.

Despite its name, the inventory of at Coral Springs, Fla.-based Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc. is not limited to offshore produce.

The company expected to be out of New Jersey blueberries by the end of July, said owner Dave Bowe. However, the shipping of Michigan blueberries began in July and will continue into early October, he said. Some of the Michigan crop will store in controlled-atmosphere units to stretch the season for retailers, Bowe said.

Simultaneous with the Michigan berries, Dave’s Specialty Imports will be offering blueberries grown in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, Bowe said.

The Mother’s Choice label remains the standard for the 25-year-old company.

Berries from Argentina

Dave’s Specialty Imports, which has become a three-generation firm with sons Mike and Chris and grandson Ryan in the company, will begin importing blueberries from Argentina in mid- to late September, Bowe said. Blueberries from Chile should start arriving in October, he said, and the company also will have fall imports of blackberries from Uruguay, Guatemala and Mexico.

Other parts of the country may join the blackberry industry in the coming years, Lineberger said, thanks to research projects by Professor John Clark at the University of Arkansas.

Clark is developing primacane blackberries, which produce a crop on the first year’s vegetation, Lineberger said.

“If he gets us a good primacane variety, the Southeast could be producing into October or at least until the first frost,” he said.

Such a variety also could push the industry into upstate New York and upper Ohio, Lineberger said. Those areas can’t produce blackberries now, because the plants can’t endure the cold winters.

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