A late crop, a topsy-turvy market and a consistent influx of produce coming in from Mexico – just another challenging year for Florida’s blueberry growers.
Chuck Allison, blueberry farmer and owner of Wild Goose Farms in Umatilla, Florida, said the cooler winter has delayed harvests this year.
“We’re getting started. We picked last week a couple of times. We’re getting back this week, probably, and then next week we’ll probably be picking every day,” Allison said. “With the cool weather this past weekend, it kind of slowed things down again. A lot of early varieties are probably 7 to 14 days later than last year. It’s all about heat units. We just didn’t get the same heat units this year.”
As harvests begin to increase for Allison and other Florida farmers, the question is how will the market play out over the next month or two? That’s really unpredictable.
“It’s so hard to tell with the marketing and stuff. There’s so many dynamics going on with Mexico now, when Georgia would come in behind Florida; Chile’s going to end and be out of the market, which will help significantly. We’re hoping that Mexico will get some of their volume through the marketplace instead of storing fruit and leading it into the market later on,” Allison said. “We think Georgia may be late like we are, so there will be a normal transition there, and North Carolina even later. We may get a more normalized market with the transitions between states. I don’t know, it’s so hard to tell.”