In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of the New Jersey blueberry season. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.
The blueberry season in New Jersey usually kicks off in mid to late June and peaks in July which is National Blueberry Month. The season can stretch out through August depending on the type of blueberries grown. About 80 percent of New Jersey’s blueberries come from Atlantic County’s 56 farms, which are located near or in Hammonton. Late winter 2021 and early spring 2022 saw cold temperatures, rains and wind. “Going into 2022, we saw more snowfall than we have normally, then we had some normal cold temperatures, and then moving toward spring, it seemed like the wind was an issue,” John Galaida of Pleasantdale Farms said in the third week of May, while eagerly waiting for a good season for New Jersey blueberries.“We also had a lot of wet weather,” says Tony Biondo of Trucco Inc. in Vineland, NJ. “As it turned out, however, it looks like the flowers took set, and the crop seems to be normal in terms of volume, and we seemed to have fared pretty well through all of that.” Biondo claims that the New Jersey crop has both good quality and volume. “It’s going to be a great season for New Jersey and we’ll probably go into August,” he adds.
New Jersey annually ranks in the top six in the U.S. in the production of blueberries. Blueberries in New Jersey for 2021 had a production value of $78 million. Farmers harvested 41 million pounds of blueberries on 7,500 acres in the last season. During the peak of blueberry season, production can be as high as 250,000-300,000 crates per day. The season kicked off with prices at $24 per package in week 24, displaying a significant increase compared to the previous season which saw prices ranging from $17.5 per package to $18.5 per package.
Blueberries are known as the “King of Anti-Oxidants.” They are low in calories and rich in nutrients. Demand is expected to be strong in the market throughout the season. As supply from North Carolina has almost dried up, New Jersey is going to be able to get a premium for its blueberries. “Normally there is a lot of volume between all the states. Once it starts, there will only be New Jersey, so the market will stay up unless there is a quality issue later in the season. But right now the quality seems great,” says Biondo.
All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.
Written by: Sarah Ilyas