It’s not just apples and bananas in fruit markets these days. Producing nations are trying to beef up production and sales of so-called superfruits — produce thought to have enhanced nutritional benefits.
Blueberry production is picking up as a result. Washington state, a traditional berry producer, is producing a record harvest this year.
“Three years ago, Washington produced 20 million pounds of blueberries. Last year, we produced 60 million pounds. In five years, Washington will be producing 100 million pounds of blueberries,” said Alan Schreiber, director of the Washington Blueberry Commission. Blueberries traditionally have been grown in the western part of the state, but Schreiber said things are changing on this front as well. “Ten years ago, there were no blueberries in eastern Washington. Now a third of the blueberries come from that side of that state. In two years, half of the blueberries will come out of the eastern portion of the state.”
A couple of years ago, Peru produced no blueberries, but within a year there will be 1,235 acres under cultivation.
Jose Francisco Unzueta, general director of Blueberries Peru, said the nation’s climate allows it to produce the berries at a time they cannot be grown in Chile and Argentina. “In periods when the blueberry harvest is scarce, mostly in the fall, we get thousands of orders from abroad,” he said. “During these months, neither Chile nor Argentina is able to deliver, and Europe and the U.S. are prepared to pay handsomely.”
Chile is working to stretch its blueberry crops to include organically grown fruit, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed two varieties that will grow well in Georgia, and not just in cooler more northern climates.