British Columbia organic blueberry harvest could finish by the end of July

From Fresh Plaza | 20 July 2023

Overview of organic blueberries from British Columbia in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on July 19, 2023. 

Organic blueberry production could see an early end to its 2023 season. “We’re almost at mid-season for organic B.C. blueberries. It’s moving fast because we’ve been in a bit of a heatwave,” says Stefan Misse of Discovery Organics. “We usually go until mid-August so I would guess it could go until the end of July.”

This is also on top of a later season start. In B.C., the organic crop volume is down as well. “We had a pretty cool window when pollination should have happened and then we had another heat wave in May that caused some blossoms to drop. This season itself affected the fruit set for sure,” he says. Add to that the continuing fallout of the flooding that happened in late 2021 in British Columbia. Misse notes that Agassiz, B.C. for example, one of the main growing regions for conventional and organic blueberries, was under several feet of water which severely affected the blueberry fields.

In fact, general organic blueberry acreage has been reduced in B.C. “Due to that flooding, some organic producers have gone back to conventional so they were able to spray different sprays to help save their plants,” says Misse. While those fields could eventually get converted back to organic, acreage would need to wait the three years it takes to transition back to organic production.

blueberry volumes by his 9

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

Demand strong for local berries

As for demand for organic B.C. blueberries, it’s strong and is anticipated to stay that way. “It’s probably the most popular fruit item for us,” says Misse, noting that Discovery Organics carries 6 oz clamshells, pints, 18 oz. clamshells and bulk in 5 lb. and 10 lb.

That’s left pricing relatively firm and that’s also expected to stay that way throughout the season. “Most blueberries that we’re receiving are still hand-picked and not machine picked. They may get packed by machines but there’s still a lot of labor involved in getting the fruit off the bushes and into consumers’ hands,” says Misse. “Everyone has a price they need to be at and they’ve already figured out their labor and production costs and that allows for pretty stable production and ad business.”

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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