Vol 117 (2004): Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society
Krome Memorial Institute (Tropicals)

The Florida blueberry industry: a decade of growth

Jeffrey G. Williamson
University of Florida
Published December 1, 2004
Keywords
  • vaccinium corymbosum,
  • vaccinium ashei,
  • dormancy,
  • photoperiod,
  • rabbiteye,
  • highbush
  • ...More
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Abstract

Florida produces the earliest ripening blueberries in North America. The harvest season begins about 1 April and extends through mid-May until North Carolina's harvest begins. Crop values for the Florida blueberry industry were estimated at $18,200,000 and $18,560,000 for the 2002 and 2003 seasons, respectively. This is a 30% increase in value over the two previous years. Commercial acreage and production have steadily increased throughout the 1990s and southern highbush varieties have gradually replaced rabbiteye varieties on commercial farms. Despite increased production and acreage, fruit prices have remained high. The average fruit price for the 2003 season was $5.20 per pound. New varieties and improved cultural practices have enabled growers to increase yields and quality without substantially increasing production costs. Factors contributing to the growth of this industry and potential challenges for its future will be discussed.