Agronometrics Shorts: Promising Season Ahead for New Jersey Blueberry Growers

By Agronometrics | 12 June 2024

New Jersey had an excellent winter and spring, creating perfect conditions for blueberry growers to harvest a full crop of bigger, better, more flavorful berries. “Things are looking really good right now,” said Denny Doyle, chairman of the New Jersey Blueberry Industry Advisory Council. In 2023, New Jersey had a robust crop of blueberries. However, mid-season storms caused significant disruptions. “It was very regional and certain areas got a lot more rain than other areas,” Doyle explained. “The overall result was it got pretty tough out here for fresh, and New Jersey is really a large fresh packing state.” New Jersey’s average blueberry crop size is around 40 million pounds, with 32 million pounds sold fresh and 8 million pounds frozen. This year, the outlook is promising. “The relationship between leaves, new growth, and fruit is just wonderful this year,” Doyle noted. “Some years, we get more vegetative growth, which shortens up the crop, or it’s so heavy that the blueberry plant has some difficulty.” Most of New Jersey’s blueberries are sold to big box stores and traditional retailers on the East Coast, as well as farm stands and farmers markets. “We go all across the U.S., with our target markets including Chicago, Minneapolis and all around the Detroit area until Michigan starts,” Doyle said. “We reach Canada, and so it’s big business there until the Vancouver crop comes in. There’s a rule with the Canadian government that once those Vancouver berries start, they chase us out. They protect their own blueberry growers.” Labor remains an ongoing challenge for New Jersey growers, compounded by legislative issues. A proposed Heat Stress Bill in Trenton could mandate pulling pickers from fields in temperatures above 80 degrees. “That is an issue of high concern because it could be really disruptive,” Doyle said.

blueberry volumes by his 15

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.

(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)


Written by Sarah Ilyas

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