The California Blueberry Commission says 2018’s frost and other weather conditions lead to a 25-30 percent decrease in blueberries, but this year we can expect a plentiful blueberry harvest.
Farms across California are actively trying to adapt to varying weather patterns and growers are quickly learning what this year will bring.
“Because of the weather, that has pushed us back a little bit on our harvest. We’ve lost a month. Rather than starting the first of March, we started the first of April,” said Carol Mahoney, owner of Blueberries Ole in Santa Maria.
That delay has lead to growers in Mexico getting a jump start on the market.
“As Mexico’s season runs a little longer, it kinda pinches into ours and you’ll start to see the price drop a little bit because as our harvest increases, there’s still Mexico blueberries in the market and more out than the consumption trends,” explained Todd Sanders, Executive Director of the California Blueberry Commission.
“So we have more than ever which caused us to miss our hot market so now the glut is going to catch up with us in supply and demand,” Mahoney said.
However, since Mahoney owns a u-pick farm, the rollercoaster pricing doesn’t affect her as much.
“Because we do a u-pick, we get a good price no matter what. Whether the price is high or low, we stay the same,” Mahoney said.
The California Blueberry Commission is hopeful this season will still be lucrative for growers as many of the early blueberries are showing good colors and size.
“We’re just expecting a really good season. Just movement of the blueberries is going to be key and that’s where the export market and domestic market are going to be paramount,” Sanders said.
Sanders says California recently started exporting its blueberries to Vietnam and hopes to expand its reach in Southeast Asia.
Because of the weather delays, peak blueberry harvests this year are expected to be around the third or fourth week in May.