header
California Seafood and Produce
email link
  home page icon avocado menu icon blueberry menu icon tropical fruits menu icon papaya menu icon lime menu icon mushroom menu icon  
home avocados blueberries tropical fruits papaya limes wild mushrooms  
       
  blueberries    
  blueberries The interesting point about blueberries worldwide is the growth of the industry, and this is demonstrated in British Columbia by the fact that the volume could double, from 65 million lbs (estimated) in 2006, to over 100 million lbs within 3-4 years. At present, there are 8-9000 bearing acres, and 5000 non-bearing acres. (Yield per acre ranges from 6 to 10 tons per acre).


 
below: Newly planted blueberry field
blueberry fields
  In concert with the increase in plantings, consumer demand has risen dramatically—2004, per capital consumption was .5 lbs for fresh, and .3 ls for frozen, compared with 5.5 lbs fresh and 1.5 fresh for strawberries. The price of frozen blueberries increased from 1.00 to 2.00/lb, from 2005 to the 2006 season.  
  Duke variety starts the season, about July 10 in a normal year. Three weeks later, bluecrop is ready for harvest, and this variety is the bulk of the crop – it finishes in early August. The elliotts are the last variety, the harvest can last until late September or early October in ideal conditions. This variety is a smaller berry, and not as sweet as duke or bluecrop -  its primary asset is that it is the last one of the season. blueberries on vine  
  blueberry harvest

Blueberries for the fresh market are harvested by hand, and there is always a labor shortage in British Columbia. Machine harvesters are used for blueberries destined for the frozen market, flexible sticks hit the blueberry bush and knock the berries into a basket underneath, as the machine moves along. This process hurts the plants and the berries, but the cost is about .10 per lb, compared to .50 lb for hand picked product. As the crop grows, there will be a more pressing need for a machine than can harvest berries in good condition for the fresh market.

 
  Packing of fresh blueberries is not a complicated process. First, field tubs are dumped on a conveyor belt, and a vacuum remove leaves and debris. The blueberries travel over a belt made up of rubber strings, and too small berries fall through it. A filler machine and weighing machine are used to fill clamshells to the proper weight. The important thing is to keep the blueberries dry, and to cool them prompty, to 34F. Strong berries that are handled well can last two weeks and still be delicious. loading blueberries