California blueberries gearing up for a better season

More News Top Stories
California blueberries gearing up for a better season

The California blueberry season is on track for a good year, with volumes expected to increase in the next few weeks.

California’s volume typically peaks around the third week of May, with blueberries available from mid-late April to mid-June. 

Jacqueline Nakashian, director of programs at the California Blueberry Commission, told that initial projections indicate approximately 80 million pounds of blueberries for this season. 

“Out of the total, 60 million would be fresh blueberries, and 20 million pounds processed,” she said. “It's still a little early in the season, but with what we are seeing now and weather patterns, that is our current estimate.”

This number would represent a nearly 20 million-pound increase from last year when the crop was affected by cold and rainy weather. 

California blueberry acreage

The last blueberry acreage assessment in California showed that among the three California districts (divided into coast, north, and south) district 3, including Fresno County to the south, had the largest acreage of blueberry plantations in the state. 

“About 27% of blueberry acreage is in Tulare County, followed by San Joaquin and Fresno counties,” Nakashian said. “This tells us that a lot of our acreage is in the central valley.”

Varietal innovation

Nakashian said there are “exciting innovations” happening in California regarding varietal development. 

The Pink Cosmo, a California-exclusive variety that hit the market last year, shows “we are trying to be innovative with flavoring and visuals,” she said. 

Increasingly unpredictable weather, however, has added a challenge to blueberry seasons. This can delay seasons and cause overlaps between producing regions. The development of more resistant varieties is key to face the challenge of climate change across the blueberry industry. 

Expanding market reach

Nakashian said the commission is exploring ways of increasing exports to markets like China, the Philippines, and Vietnam. 

“For us, our largest export market is Canada, and has been consistently for many years,” she said. “However, with our team focusing on penetrating and being competitive in alternative Asian markets through marketing campaigns, we can take advantage of that potential.”

The California Blueberry Committee will be attending Asia Fruit Logistics 2024 in Hong Kong where they will be exhibiting and visiting retail markets to expand their volumes to the region. 

Related articles:

Washington blueberries look to Asia, as growers await highest volumes in decade

Subscribe to our newsletter