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January 10, 2018

Berry Crop Updates: Strawberry and Blueberry Forecasts

The latest berry crop updates indicate opportunities and challenges for the country’s two favorite berries.

The respective seasons for the country’s two favorite berries—strawberries and blueberries—are quickly approaching. Both berries see their earliest harvests in Florida, with other southeast states like Georgia following closely. Keep reading for berry crop updates that indicate what’s in store for the growers of these two commodities.

Berry Seasons

Florida’s tropical climate means it’s a prime location for growing strawberries and blueberries as early as possible. Consequently, Florida is first to the market with its berries. The strawberry harvest typically starts in January and lasts into March. Florida’s Strawberry Festival is held in early March at the height of the strawberry harvest.

Florida’s blueberry season traditionally starts in March and lasts for about six weeks into April. The Florida Blueberry Festival in Brooksville is also held during that time. However, the weather has a lot to do with the timing and the volume of berry harvests. For instance, a combination of unseasonably warm weather and severe cold snaps put Florida’s 2016 blueberry harvest much later than usual, and berry distributors were already buying berries from Georgia and the Carolinas by the time Florida berries were ready. This caused some growers to look at their farm refinance options, or at the very least consider all financial options to recoup losses. Florida blueberry growers are hoping for a much better harvest in 2017.

Berry Crop Updates

Strawberry growers in Florida are happy with the progress of this year’s crop thus far, according to a article. In addition to positive weather conditions, the UF/IFAS-bred variety called Sweet Sensation will be more widely available this harvest, as the acreage for it has increased in Florida, The Packer reports.  The weather’s recent La Niña pattern has brought cooler temperatures, which is needed for ideal strawberry production. This is opposed to last year’s El Niño weather patterns, which brought unseasonably warm temperatures that disrupted many ag sectors, strawberries and blueberries included. Growers in Georgia are facing drought conditions this year that will likely affect their strawberries and other crops.

For blueberry growers, colder weather is also a bonus, and current weather conditions have been mostly favorable for blueberry production. Overly warm weather and/or freezing temperatures would negatively affect the crop. Like strawberries, blueberry growers in Georgia are also concerned over water usage. Continuing drought conditions will reduce the volume and quality of blueberry harvests for growers without dedicated irrigation, which we should hear more about in future berry crop updates.

As the nation’s leading agricultural lenders, AgAmerica Lending is available to assist berry growers in good times and bad. We assist the country’s growers with our custom agricultural land loan packages and low farm loan rates, long amortizations, and an outstanding 10-year line of credit.

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