Market windows for Florida blueberries

Paul M. Lyrene

Abstract


Using various combinations of locations, cultivars, and cultural methods, Florida growers could harvest blueberries for the fresh market without interruption from 15 Mar through 15 Aug., a period of about 22 weeks. However, production systems that yield ripe blueberries during some of these weeks are very expensive, and market prices for fresh blueberries are low during other weeks of this period due to competition from other production areas. In addition, the summer rainy season normally begins in the northern half of the Florida peninsula in early June, and rains can cause problems with harvest scheduling and with berry quality after the second week in June. It appears that southern highbush blueberry varieties planted from south-central Florida to northeast Florida for the 10 Apr. to 10 May market currently offer the best prospect for Florida blueberry growers. As production increases during this market window, two other production opportunities may become more attractive: (1) Protected culture of lowchill highbush varieties, which would allow harvest to begin about 20 Mar., and (2) cultivation of new, early- ripening varieties of rabbiteye blueberries in northeast Florida east of the St. Johns River, which could be mechanically harvested for the fresh market between 25 Apr. and 25 May.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283