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The 2015 Florida Blueberry Season: Production high, but prices low

The numbers from the 2015 Florida blueberry season are in, and despite ideal production conditions, growers saw a drop in farm price.

According to UF horticulture professor Jeff Williamson, the record breaking production output caused an oversupply that drove down prices.

“I think yields (pounds of blueberries per acre) were real good. I’m not sure all of the crop was picked,” he said. “With the high volume, prices declined earlier than they normally do.”

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Prices could also have been affected by unusual weather, both in Florida and in Chile. The Florida blueberry season spans the last few weeks of March to the first week of April, right after blueberries stop being imported from Chile and before more northern states like Georgia can start their harvest. For those few weeks, Florida is the only source of fresh blueberries in the U.S. market, and growers can charge a premium price.

This season, cold weather prevented Chilean growers from starting their harvest on schedule, and they were exporting blueberries to the U.S. until the end of March. A warm spring in Florida forced growers to start harvesting two weeks earlier than normal, meaning both regions were selling blueberries at the same time. This, coupled with the fact that the Florida heat caused most farms to produce even more than usual, created an oversupply in the market and brought prices down for everyone.

Despite these setbacks, the 2015 blueberry season was still deemed profitable, and USDA statistics show that consumers taste for blueberries is only growing, with domestic sale increasing form 40 million pounds in 1980 to 429  million pounds in 2013.

For more information about the 2015 blueberry season, check out this article: http://www.theledger.com/article/20150612/NEWSCHIEF/150619823?p=1&tc=pg

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