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US (GA): New acreage helps blueberry crop
Despite early losses due to a freeze in spring, this year's Georgia blueberry crop will be on par with last year's thanks to new acreage bearing fruit. Though weather conditions have held steady for most of Georgia's later harvest, recent rain has hampered picking in some areas.
Cold weather earlier in the year cut down on the state's blueberry production, but that was offset by young acreage, said Joe Cornelius, president of J & B Blueberry Farms. Those two factors will most likely offset each other and result in a season with average volume.
“We had some losses due to the cold,” he said. “But we got a lot of new acreage this year, so volume will probably be close to last year, maybe even a little better.” Good weather during the second harvest, which began in mid-May, has helped with production, though rains have presented difficulties.
“The season was really good up until a few days ago,” said Cornelius. “The weather had been clear up until about seven days ago, now rains have been causing some problems.” He noted that growers can't harvest in the rain because berries get damaged, so the weather has been delaying picking.
With peak volumes approaching, prices have been good for buyers. On June 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices for a flat of large blueberries from Georgia to be between $14.50 and $16.00. Harvesting should continue throughout the state until July.
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