California University releases a report that estimates costs of blackberry production

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California University releases a report that estimates costs of blackberry production

The University of California released a report for state blackberry growers to estimate the cost and return on production of growing the fruit on California's Central Coast, specifically Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito Counties.

The study shows a myriad of details regarding the cost of different management options including the growth of fully organic fruit.

Twenty percent of the state's crop are produced and marketed as organic, and the report shows there's barely any difference in organic production of blackberries since many of the practices used in "conventional blackberry production are also used in organic production," the main differences are found in approaches to crop fertilization and pest management. 

Cost per acre can vary and climate uncertainty and regulatory environment may also impact findings. The model management scenario is a 30-acre farm, where 15 acres will consist of planted blackberries and the rest will be used for irrigation system, roads and buildings. 

Because blackberries are a perennial crop that can produce for up to 8 years, if well managed, the study looks at costs and returns after one year of a primocane bearing blackberry crop and then groups together the next four production and harvest cycles. 

For all years involved they look at crop cycle, hours of labor for land preparation, planting, trellis, irrigation, tunnel construction, cane management, fertilization and weed mats to assist with weed management. For the first year, the organization estimates a total net cost/acre for the year of $21,069 after accounting for total cost and income. 

A ranging analysis for the four consecutive production years is also included but it only shows potential profits and losses over a range of prices and yields. 

“The study provides growers with a baseline to estimate their own costs," said Brittney Goodrich, UC Cooperative Extension specialist and study co-author. "Which can help when applying for production loans, projecting labor costs, securing market arrangements or understanding costs associated with water and nutrient management and regulatory programs."

Although the state is one of the narion's largest exporter of many agricultural commodities such as almonds, dates, figs, and kiwifruit, California is not one of the leading blackberry producers. However, the state has seen an increase in the production exports value in both raspberries and blackberries, the change in export value from 2020 to 2021 was of $22 million, an increase of 15.4%

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