The cold weather patterns that moved through California in early March appear to have caused blueberry damage, but the exact amount is still uncertain. The low temperatures were felt throughout California from Yuba down to San Diego.
“Early reports are indicating that the early varieties of blueberries definitely were impacted by the freeze event that took place last month,” Executive Director for the California Blueberry Commission Alex Ott said. “It’s still a little too early to tell exactly what those impacts are, but we do know that the blueberry crop was damaged but to what extent we just still don’t know yet.”
Of all California blueberry production, its estimated that early varieties only represent between eight and 12 percent of the industry. “What we’re also trying to still ascertain is whether or not the mid varieties have also been impacted,” said Ott.
The commission began taking calls on the extent of blueberry damage immediately following the cold temperatures that were felt throughout the state. Even with the weather events, the industry is expecting to hit the historical average for production. Volumes have increased significantly over the past ten years with growers producing approximately 61 million pounds last year.
Harvest is officially underway as the industry continues to assess what kind of losses were experienced due to the weather. “The fruit that is coming off now we’re very excited about, it’s looking good but again we just want to make sure that the rest of the crop in other parts of the state were not as hit as the first reports have indicated,” said Ott. “It’s a week by week basis and we’re going to see where we are here in a couple of weeks for the total California blueberry crop.”
California is not the largest state in terms of blueberry production, but California growers have the largest per-acre yields at over 10,000 pounds. Blueberries are grown in a variety of locations throughout the state on over 5,000 acres, from the San Joaquin Valley to the Central Coast.