Blueberry Mechanization Pt 2

Blueberry Mechanization Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. We talked yesterday about Washington blueberry growers working on ways to harvest fresh market blueberries by machine.

Washington Blueberry Commission Executive Director, Dr. Alan Schreiber says remarkably it isn’t the increased production, but how demand for our berries continues to grow every year …

SCHREIBER … “Often, when you have the kinds of surge in production that you have with a crop like blueberries, you see some seriously depressed prices, but it seems like every year people want more and more Washington blueberries. And, we’re in a sweet spot of where demand has been in balance with supply.”

And with labor in short supply, Dr. Schreiber says growers are working on ways to keep up with demand …

SCHREIBER … “They’re modifying harvesters that harvest for processed blueberries and they also are figuring out what varieties are best adapted for fresh harvest by machine.”

He says they’re also looking at which kinds of berries lend themselves best to machine harvesting …

SCHREIBER … “It is certain varieties, not necessarily based on size, but it has to do with firmness of the berries. Draper is an example of something that can be picked machine harvest better than some other varieties.

And, perhaps, the first pass through you can machine pick, then you have to have workers come in and hand pick the remaining picks.”

About 60% of Washington blueberries are grown for the processed market while 40% are sold fresh.

Previous ReportBlueberry Mechanization Pt 1
Next ReportConsumers Today Pt 1