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Weather-related damage affects California blueberry crop

The California blueberry harvest is in full swing. Alas, some growers are picking a smaller crop this year, as they lost fruit to spring frost and hail. The California Blueberry Commission estimates farms will produce 55 million pounds of the fresh berries this year, down from its original projection of 65 million pounds.

The current estimate represents a 15% drop from the 2021 crop, which produced 65 million pounds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the 2021 crop at 74.5 million pounds compared to 79.3 million pounds in 2020.

Commission Executive Director Todd Sanders called the weather-related damage as ‘sporadic’. It hit some farms in some locations particularly hard, with others escaping with relatively minor losses.

Blueberries remain a relatively new crop for California, which did not have much commercial production until about two decades ago with plantings of heat-tolerant southern highbush varieties. State acreage climbed from about 200 in the late 1990s to about 2,000 by 2005, according to USDA. Total state acreage today stands closer to 10,000.


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