Blueberry Council of Missouri Newsletter
Editor: Howard Thompson
I would like to have at least a monthly edition of this letter. As a member, this letter would be e-mailed directly to you as compared to waiting several weeks to find the new posting. Also as a member, you can have your farm listed on our website. The Council bulk orders picking/freezer bags that can line a one gallon bucket. Once your customer gets home, it can go directly into the freezer, if the berries make it that far. We meet annually at either the Small Fruit and Vegetable Conference sponsored by MSU. This meeting is usually held the weeks of Presidentís Day in Springfield, Mo. Or, we have also met as part of the Missouri State Horticultural Society meeting in the middle of January.
At the 2009 meeting, the results from a growerís survey were presented. In 2008, the members produced more than 80,000 pounds of blueberries in berry patches that ranged from Ĺ to 4 A. The price for U-pick blueberries ranged from $1.80 to $3.35/pound with an average around $2.50/pound. The pre-picked blueberries were approximately $1.25/ pound more than PYO. This survey showed some members are also beekeepers and others are involved with selling other fruit (blackberries, peaches and apples). Several members had their own gift store or restaurant, while others are considering starting one of their own.
The primary type of blueberry that is grown in Missouri is the Northern Highbush. We are too far south for the Northern Lowbush and for the most part, too far north for either the Southern Highbush or Rabbiteye blueberries. Figure 1 shows the cultivars (varieties) of blueberries that are grown by the members with three cultivars (Bluecrop, Blueray and Duke) making up 54% of all the blueberries grown by the members. Each cultivar has it own growing and picking characteristics. Some blueberries are the size of a raisin while others are much larger at the size of a quarter. To some people, each cultivar tastes different but to this writer who canít tell the difference, they all taste great.
All the members sold out of their berries with most of the berries being sold on a pick-your-own basis. Some of the growers require appointments for picking. A few also have pre-picked berries while others sell at their local farmers market. The Earliblue and Bluette are the first to flower (greatest frost risk) and fruit with picking starting the last week of May in Southwest Missouri (Zone 6B) while it may not start until the second week of June along I-70 between Kansas City and St Louis(Zone 5B). Bluecrop and Bluejay, mid season cultivars, start picking about 2 weeks after the earliest cultivars. In southwest Missouri, Nelson is finished picking the week of the 4th of July just before Japanese beetle season and our summer drought. If it has not gotten too hot to entice customers out into the fields, the Nelson picking season overlaps the start of blackberry picking so, at some growers the consumer can pick both.
In the future we will discuss almost any topic related to growing blueberries, running an agrotourism location, showcasing individual growers, supplying results for on-going surveys and the list goes on. We would be glad to address readersí questions either as part of the newsletter or individually. All you have to do is contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org