Otros cultivos

Highbush Blueberry Production

Blueberries are well suited for small-scale and part-time farm operations. The initial investment is large, primarily because of the cost of preparing the land, establishing plants, and installing an irrigation system. However, little equipment is needed for small plantings, and healthy, welltended plants can be expected to bear fruit for 50 years or more. Demand for blueberries has increased in recent years, and fresh-market prices have been relatively stable.

However, blueberry production is not for everyone due to the specialized cultivation requirements of the plants and the relatively short shelf life of the fruit. Three species of blueberries are native to North America: highbush (used in commercial plantings in cooler climates), lowbush (wild fruit harvested commercially in New England), and rabbiteye (used in commercial plantings in the southern United States). To meet growing consumer demand, commercial blueberry acreage increased more than 60 percent in the past 15 years.

Production has more than doubled since the late 1970s.
Major increases have occurred in Michigan (where more than 40 percent of the commercial acreage is located) and in the southeastern United States. Although about 90 percent of the commercial acreage is located in the United States, sizable plantings are also located in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Romania, Holland, and Poland.

The United States produces 150 to 200 million pounds of blueberries annually, with most of this production coming from highbush or rabbiteye plantings. Nearly
one-half of the total blueberry crop is consumed fresh, but most lowbush blueberries are processed due to their small size. Maine is the leader in lowbush production and Georgia is the leader in rabbiteye production. The top three highbush blueberry states are Michigan, New Jersey, and North Carolina. This publication focuses on highbush blueberry production.

Marketing

Fresh-market blueberries usually are sold in plastic half-pint and pint containers covered with lids. Six basic marketing options are available to the blueberry grower: wholesale markets, marketing cooperatives, local retail markets
(grocery stores), roadside stands, pick-your-own operations, and processors.
With the wholesale option, either you or a shipper takes your crop to the market. Shippers generally sell and transport the blueberries for a predetermined price.

 This marketing alternative has the greatest price fluctuations. Marketing
cooperatives generally use a daily pooled cost and price, which spreads price fluctuations over all participating producers. To sell directly to local retailers, you need to contact produce managers and provide consistent quality when the stores demand the berries.

read the complete article

This publication was developed by the Small and Part-time
Farming Project at Penn State with support from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture-Extension Service.
 

 

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