U.S.: Michigan blueberry harvest kicks off
In a release, Michigan Blueberry Growers Association marketing board member Chris Hodgman said after freezing temperatures the industry had to contend with drought conditions for the last few years.
“Luckily, the growers in the Michigan Blueberry Growers Association have invested in wells and irrigation systems that allow us to supply ample water for the growing crop,” he said.
“This year has had its share of challenges; however, the berries we are harvesting for the fresh market are ‘eating’ very well, and we remain optimistic about the balance to the season.
“We are seeing manageable volumes being harvested this week and the growers’ prices reflect strong market demand.”
The association is a part owner of Naturipe Farms, which manages the sales, marketing and distribution of the co-op’s blueberries. Naturipe’s vice president of product management Brian Bocock highlighted the Pure Michigan program, which developed a blueberry-specific logo that could be used by the state’s growers of the fruit.
“We will feature the Pure Michigan Blueberry logo on our labels so that the retailers in Michigan and the surrounding states can demonstrate their support of local blueberry growers.
“In addition, we are getting requests from restaurant chains who also want to feature locally grown produce. It’s rewarding to get the support locally, but also to see how well Michigan blueberries are recognized throughout the country and abroad.”
The highbush blueberry is native to Michigan with 30 different varieties grown for fresh and frozen markets, with the growers association representing a large percentage of the approximately 600 family farms in the state that grow fresh blueberries.
The state exported more than 100 billion pounds of the fruit in 2010.