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Good winter could mean healthy 2018 New Jersey production

While it’s early days, some growers in the state of New Jersey are potentially looking at a healthy-sized blueberry crop this upcoming season.

“It does look like the crop is going to be up from last year,” says Tom Consalo of Consalo Family Farms in Egg Harbor City, NJ. “Last year we were off a bit but this year looks to be up. Even up from a normal year so we’re looking at a pretty heavy crop.”

The optimistic outlook for blueberries comes thanks to the kind of winter that growers in New Jersey welcomed. “Nothing was devastatingly cold to cause any kind of issues so as long as pollination goes the way that we hope and we get a couple of clear days through the spring, everything looks like it’ll produce a bit more than normal,” says Consalo, whose main commodities include blueberries and peaches, though the company carries more than 100 items.

Competing factors
As any grower knows, weather can be friend or foe and it also affects who Consalo and other growers in the state see as competition. “We’ve always had some overlaps from North Carolina, Georgia and more recently British Columbia,” he says. “As there are more varieties developing in some of these other states, Georgia, Carolina and B.C. those are our main competitors from an area standpoint.” Factoring into that competition are the cold temperatures the southern states have experienced in the past few years, but also the influx of investment and production seen north of the border in British Columbia. “BC is almost reminiscent of Georgia in the way they’ve gone and planted,” Consalo adds. However Consalo adds that Consalo Family Farms also has fruit from the competing areas in order to maintain supply, though it focuses on marketing its home crop.

Looking ahead at the season, Consalo has taken steps to remain competitive with larger growers coming into the region and that includes keeping tabs on timing of commodities in other growing regions and getting ahead on packaging trends. “And we’re getting more involved in organics in blueberries and in vegetables,” he says. “There’s not a lot going on in organics in New Jersey so we’re trying to put more and more acreage in on that every year.”

Trucking issue
Other issues that continue to concern growers in the region include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration ruling that came in at the end of last year that trucks need to carry electronic logging devices (ELDs). “The issue remains and will remain a factor for sure,” says Consalo. “It was very drastic when it was first put into practise in January but we’ve also become a little more educated around the issue.”

For more information:
Tom Consalo
Consalo Family Farms
Tel: +1 (609) 804-9400

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