Florida blueberry season in full swing

Agronometrics in Charts: Florida blueberry season in full swing

Agronometrics in Charts: Florida blueberry season in full swing

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas evaluates the advent of the Florida blueberry season. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.


The changeover in blueberry varieties in Florida from rabbiteye to early-ripening southern highbush cultivars has led to an increase in potential for crop losses from late winter and early spring freezes. 

The first week of February on the East Coast witnessed subzero temperatures this year; freezes during February, March, and April are a much greater problem for Florida blueberry growers than could have been anticipated in the past. Despite the frigid winter, Florida’s blueberry crop appeared to have had a close call. 

According to Doug Phillips, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) blueberry Extension coordinator, most blueberry crops suffered minor damages at most. Some crops had a little bit of damage around the edges of a field or low spots that are hard to freeze protect. 

This year, blueberries in Florida and Georgia bloomed early, owing to which, volumes have begun to arrive early. Week 8 saw a total of 81 K kgs of blueberries coming in from Florida while in week 9, a total of 127 K kgs were recorded. 


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

Florida growers have been particularly vociferous about competition from Mexico, especially after last year’s Section 201 investigation. The Mexican blueberry season covers the period from September through June, peaking between February and May, which overlaps with the production window for Florida blueberries.  

Much to the dismay of Florida growers, owing to a surfeit of blueberries arriving from Mexico, Peru and Chile, prices have nosedived this season. Prices in week 10 stood at $13.73 per package, a 6 percent drop compared to last season. 


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

Peru has been rapidly increasing blueberry exports in recent years. It went from exporting 12,951 tons of fresh blueberries in the 2015-16 season to 162,456 tons in the 2020-21 season. For the 2021-22 season, Peru’s projected exports are at 211,200 tons of fresh blueberries. 

The volume of Chilean blueberries exported, fresh or frozen, has decreased by 24.1% year-on-year. Whereas the Mexican berry industry is expecting a growth of between 8 and 10 percent in 2022, according to a study by Agroberichten Buitenland


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

Despite the cut throat competition, Florida growers make the most out of the strong market for fresh blueberries that ripen before May 10. Starting from mid-May, Georgia and North Carolina blueberry harvests kick off and prices typically drop to the point where commercial production under Florida conditions is not cost effective.


In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at www.agronometrics.com where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.

 

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