The term “superfood” has been playing a large role in our vocabulary. People are looking to eat foods that contain a high level of nutrition in hopes of fighing off diseases like cancer. One of the foods at the top of that list is blueberries. So it’s no surprise that more and more places are growing them. Typically with most fruits you find in the supermarket, you only get them from a couple states, maybe including your own. However I am noticing that more and more blueberries from many different states are arriving on my local grocery store shelves. I thought I would take a look at these states and talk about their crops and when they are harvested. Also at the end I will make mention of wild blueberries.
On a nationwide level you can expect the first blueberries to arrive for the year from Florida, followed by other southern states and California. Then Texas makes an appearance before a sizable crop from New Jersey hits the stores. Michigan, Maine, and other northern states round out the year. Below you will find a table of the average harvest times (each year can be slightly different).
|Michigan||July to Labor Day|
|California||May to late June|
|Florida||late March to late May|
|Georgia||early May to July|
|Texas||June to August|
|Mississippi||late May to early July|
|Louisiana||late May to mid July|
|New Jersey||mid June to mid August|
|Oregon||late June to early August|
|Maine||late July to late September|
Florida offers the first blueberry crop of the year to make a scene on the national level. Below you can watch a video of Florida blueberries being sorted for shipment.
Depending on how the crop in Florida looks and how Georgia’s crop is, they will replace the Florida grown berries in the stores around early May. “About 60 percent of blueberries in Georgia are the rabbiteye variety. The remaining 40 percent are Southern highbush variety.” (Source: http://www.caes.uga.edu/applications/gafaces/?public=viewStory&pk_id=4121)
Mississippi & Louisiana
Both these states have a crop to offer just after the Georgia crop. The Miss-Lou Blueberry Growers Cooperative out of Franklinton, LA is a joint effort by farms from both states. It was established in 1984. I found a nice list of varieties that are grown in Missisippi that you can check out here: http://www.extension.org/pages/29236/early-season-blueberry-varieties
Most of the California bluebrries hit the market in May and June. But some growers are able to get a crop even early such as Family Tree Farms out of Reedley, CA. Watch the video below on how they grow their berries.
Starting in June, Texas grown blueberries hit the market place. The Texas Blueberry Festival in Nacogdoches, TX runs in early June and has been going on for over 20 years.
Around the middle of June, New Jersey grown berries start to dominate the market place. When I see Jersey grown in the stores I know that my Michigan berries aren’t far behind. I usually find that the Jersey grown berries are the highest quality berries that come from out of state.
Now onto my home state. I can’t wait for blueberry season to begin each July. Michigan leads the nation in the production of high bush variety berries. Blueberries can be found throughout the state, however the southwest corner of the Lower Peninsula is covered with blueberry farms, so the u-pickers have quite a number of options.
2012 Michigan Crop Update
Due to record high temperatures in March, blueberries arrived early this year, even before the calendar turned over to June. Many places are reporting an excellent crop this year. This is exciting news for a state that suffered so much in the way of lost tree fruit crops in 2012.
Maine & Wild Blueberries
Maine is the leading producer of lowbush blueberries in the United States. Blueberries were all orginally lowbush, the higher bush varieties came along later. While this helped the blueberry industry develop across the United States, the original low bush varieties or wild blueberries are said to have the superior flavor. One Maine wild blueberry farm is Peace & Plenty Farm. They grow 100% organic wild blueberries in the High Peaks region of western Maine. They rely on native pollinators and are on a three year rotation for cutting their fields.
Maine wild blueberries are frozen and shipped across the country. G.M. Allen & Son Inc is one company that has been in the wild blueberry business for going on 4 generations now. Their blueberries are the ones used by Ann Arbor, Michigan based Zingerman’s Bakehouse in their pies and blueberry buckle. If you have never seen wild blueberries before check out a video of their farm and see how these berries are harvested. You will then know why the high bush varieties came on the scene!