On Track for a Strong Season

Here I am in the middle of March penning my letter with fresh memories of my time visiting with fellow growers at the Spring FBGA Meeting and Field Day at the University of Florida Education and Research Center in Citra. I’m happy to report that most growers I spoke with are quite optimistic about the season as we enter the main blueberry harvest. Although growing blueberries is much like selling real estate, where performance is naturally local, the general trends are tracking toward a big increase in volume over the tough 2023 season. It’s nice to see Florida growers will likely reap the rewards of their tenacity and hard work as they climb back from the damaging weather and economic shocks that plagued us last year.

In my letter in the Winter edition, I stated I was “Holding Out Hope for a Good 2024 Season.” Since then, most of the risks to our season have been mostly benign. Overall, the weather has been a plus for most growing regions with plenty of chill, few severe freezes, and supportive pollination conditions. I am getting positive feedback from a good number of farms about their crop volumes. Going into the season I’m thinking Florida will harvest a few million more pounds of blueberries than we did in last year’s short crop. 

More volume is great! Let’s see how the market price holds up with a very early Easter, the always increasing fruit volume coming in from Mexico, and the timing and size of the crop from our northern neighbor, Georgia. I hear getting pick labor has had some hiccups for some folks this spring, and hopefully that is resolved in time for harvest. Looks like this will continue to be a knotty problem for our Florida growers. 

Nevertheless, I sense grower optimism as many begin to reap the benefits of their recent plantings of more productive and early varieties recently introduced by the University of Florida breeding program. These Florida growers are making major financial commitments and doubling their workload to renew their plantings with better genetics. Such investments will keep them competitive by enabling them to grow more pounds of fruit per acre, harvesting during a more profitable window, and delivering a fresher, better tasting berry to our ever more demanding US consumer. 

My final impression about my day at the March 7th FBGA Spring Meeting concerns the quality and sincerity of the people who carved out a day to share with their colleagues. As usual, I caught up with some grower-friends I respect and had a chance to pick their brains about their new ideas and opinions. But I also met some other experienced growers for the first time as well as some up-and-coming younger growers. I was most impressed and rediscovered that Florida has talented growers I need to network with to hone my craft and better understand the complex texture of the Florida blueberry industry.

So, here’s my optimistic proclamation that I expect a bountiful and profitable harvest. It’s time for a good season. And it’s not just better weather, it’s because our growers know their farms, know their varieties, and know what it takes to grow the finest blueberries money can buy.

Share this post:

Comments on "On Track for a Strong Season"

Comments 0-5 of 0

Please login to comment