Florida blueberry season is in full swing from the beginning of March through early May. With approximately 20 million pounds of blueberries being produced this year, farmers are kept busy with production, harvesting, and shipping.
Over the past 20 years, the state’s blueberry industry has grown quickly, with over 5,200 acres of land dedicated to growing these small but mighty berries.
Blueberries are packed with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and potassium, and are just 80 calories per cup. They contain cancer-fighting antioxidants and compounds and are one of the few fruits native to North America.
Doug Phillips, the UF/IFAS statewide blueberry Extension coordinator, explains what to expect to see from the blueberry market this year.
Florida ranks eighth in the country in terms of blueberry production and has the first U.S.-produced blueberries to reach the domestic market. Most Florida-grown blueberries come from Hendry, Alachua and Putnam Counties as well as a few counties in the Panhandle.
The best time to plant is during the cooler parts of the year and many blueberry growers plant at different times of the year depending on weather, temperatures, plant availability, labor availability and water availability for irrigation.
A few new blueberry varieties will be hitting the market this year. The University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has a blueberry breeding program that dates back to the 1950s.
This program is known for creating good-tasting, disease-and pest-resistant blueberry varieties. Their latest release, the “Sentinel” in 2020, has brought high yields for growers. More recent releases include ‘Optimus’, ‘Arcadia’, ‘Avanti’, ‘Colussus’ and ‘Magnus’.
Celebrate Florida blueberry season with sweet and savory spring recipes from Florida Farm & Family magazine.