When you think about Georgia agriculture what comes to mind? Peaches? Most likely. But blueberries? When did that happen?
Georgia tapped into the global blueberry market a little over 10 years ago and the state has since become a competitive player. This past season’s crop was projected to produce an astoundingly impressive amount, racking up 70 million pounds of blueberries from nearly 20,000 acres of orchards. In fact, blueberry production has thoroughly surpassed peach production. The Peach State now makes more money off of its blueberry crop, which is 3 times more valuable.
Harvesting the crop has been a good move for many farmers, especially growers that were experiencing difficulties with other crops, such as tobacco.
Blueberries have grown in demand among health-conscious consumers. Positive coverage coupled with heavy research on blueberries and their health, healing, and antioxidant properties is responsible for the burst of blueberry acreage in Georgia.
This sudden increase of Georgia’s blueberry crop is difficult to keep up with for federal observances. The USDA reports 14,000 acres of Georgia Blueberries, but the actual amount is probably closer to 20,000. The expectation is that the crop will continue proliferating, increasing to 24,000 to 26,000 acres within the next few years.
Competing states – New Jersey, Florida, and Michigan – are beginning to harvest the crop, emulating Georgia’s success. Georgia, however, enjoys an advantage, claiming the longest season in the U.S. lasting from mid-April through the end of July to delight in fresh Georgia Blueberries, dubbed “Sweet Georgia Blues.”
The Georgia Department of Agriculture is very supportive of all blueberry-growing initiatives, even going so far as to form a Georgia Blueberry Commission. This program, founded in 2009, was designed to support research, education, and promotion on behalf of the state’s blueberry growers.
I think it’s safe to say: Goodbye, Peach State; hello, Blueberry State.
Georgia landowner? Blueberry grower? Do you wish to convert your current land for blueberry harvesting? Contact AgAmerica Lending regarding Georgia farm credit options and agricultural financing solutions.