Blueberry growers in Oregon are gearing up for harvest. “We are expecting to start harvest in two weeks, on June 11,” says Catherine Gipe-Stewart with Domex Superfresh Growers. It’s the company’s second year of growing and marketing blueberries and Gipe-Stewart is anticipating a slightly larger volume compared to last year with a nice promotable crop. “This crop year, weather has been in our favor. We’ve been having cool nights recently, which helped increase fruit sizing, create a more uniform size, and increased the brix levels of the fruit,” she added. Harvest is expected to go into mid-September, making for a smooth transition into kiwi berry harvest.
All of the company’s blueberry fields are located in Oregon, in the Umpqua Valley. “The mild, dry climate is ideal for producing delicious, large, high-quality blueberries over a long season,” said Gipe-Stewart. “The climate is cooler than eastern Washington State, reducing heat-induced condition concerns.”
Blueberries complement product range
Last year around this time, Domex Superfresh Growers announced its expansion into the blueberry segment through a partnership with Norris Farms. When asked how the first year went, Gipe-Stewart mentioned it was a smart move for both companies. “As both family-owned companies, we have similar values and work well together. Our collective farming, sales, and logistical expertise, combined with mutual multi-generations farming knowledge, have created a great match.” In addition to a great partnership, blueberries complement Superfresh’ other product offerings well. “They can be conveniently included with cherry, apple and pear loads,” she commented. “Our internal logistics team, DSG Logistics, can combine trucks with Northwest vegetables as well.”
Certified heart-healthy food
The company is expecting high demand for blueberries this summer. “We think families will forego traditional vacations and stay close to home with small groups of family and friends. Blueberries will be a popular way to add excitement to backyard picnics and grilling. They are an ideal picnic food and we have plenty of recipes and ideas to help encourage picnicking,” said Gipe-Stewart. Not only are blueberries a convenient snack, their health benefits make them even more appealing. They are certified as a heart-healthy food by the American Heart Association as they carry four essential nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. One cup of blueberries contains only about 80 calories.
In addition to distribution in the domestic market, Domex Superfresh Growers also has a blueberry export program. “We are very optimistic about the export market, especially with China and the Philippines open for blueberries from the United States. Our main export markets outside North America will be Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam.”