US (CA): Some blueberries get early start

Despite storms hitting several parts of California last week, this year's blueberry crop looks like it could get a good start. While most harvesting will commence next month, some growers in the southern San Joaquin Valley will start harvesting early.

"It looks like we'll get started about a week earlier than last year," said Young Kwun of Tabitha Max Blueberry Farm in Porterville. He added that while most production starts later this month or in early May, he's expecting a slightly earlier harvest with increased production.

Other growers in the area are also on the cusp of picking.

"Growers in the southern part of the San Joaquin Valley will probably get started around the middle of next week," said Jim Hanson of Grower Direct Marketing. He expects a good, full crop and said they managed to avoid damage from the storms that passed through the state last week. That, combined with a promising market, has Hanson optimistic about this year.

"Some years, supplies from Florida and Georgia have much more of an influence on us," he said, "but prices look like they'll be a little stronger than in previous years."

For April 19, blueberry prices for a flat of 12 - 4.4 ounce cups from Florida and Georgia were reported to be between $15 and $17.50.

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