Summer brings ample interest in berries

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

Nearly all of the major domestic berry growing regions will be in full stride for the balance of the summer, grower-shippers said. Produce sections may well resemble berry patches.

The blueberry harvest is drawing to a close in New Jersey because of disappointingly low volume of late-season varieties, said Phillip Neary, director of operations and grower relations for Sunny Valley International Inc., Glassboro, N.J.

Filling the shelves, however, are plenty of blueberries from Michigan and Oregon.

The Michigan crop started strong in July, and the season could continue into early October, said Dave Bowe, owner of Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc., Coral Springs, Fla. The blueberry outlook is just as bright in Oregon, where Doug Perkins, sales manager at Sheridan-based Hurst’s Berry Farm Inc. said good volume will continue through September and could run into early October.

Grower-shippers in the Southeast are harvesting a bumper crop of blackberries with supplies expected to be available into September, said Ervin Lineberger, owner of Killdeer Farm, Kings Mountain, N.C. He attributed some of the big volume to increased plantings in the hill country of western North Carolina, an area becoming an important berry-growing region, he said.

August-September has traditionally been a peak production period for California raspberries. The season will be modified starting this year, a change raspberry lovers will enjoy. Breeders for Well-Pict Inc., Watsonville, Calif., have developed proprietary varieties that increase July volume and extend the season into September, said Dan Crowley, sales manager.

Grower-shippers of the nearly year round supply of California strawberries are doing themselves proud in 2009. They are on track to set yet another record for volume.

When weather forces the annual late fall slow down in the Watsonville area, expectations are that the Southern California fall crop will be bigger than ever before, grower-shippers said.

Importers have their fingers crossed for their South American growers. After two consecutive years of weather-plagued crops, the hope is the Argentine and Chilean blueberry crops will bounce back this fall. It is too early to tell whether Mother Nature will cooperate, importers said.



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