Florida’s Blueberry Industry
The agriculture industry in the state of Florida is very impressive. We are able to grow a large variety of crops due to our climate. A product that is “Fresh from Florida” is always available in the grocery store. During the months of April and May, blueberries in Florida take center stage!
Florida blueberries are the first to ripen in the country and have a very short and sweet season. Fruits in Florida have been developed to accommodate Florida’s climate and blueberries are no exception. Blueberries require “chill hours” or an amount of time where the fruit tree is exposed to cooler temperatures. Since Florida has a very mild winter season, low-chill blueberry varieties have been created putting Florida blueberries first on the market. Blueberries are grown up the east and west coasts of the country.
Blueberry plants are typically planted mid-December through mid-February. Plants are pruned or trimmed to encourage plant growth and fruitfulness. Growers aim for a fruit carrying capacity that is balanced. This means that growers want a balance between vegetative and reproductive parts. The vegetative parts of the plant are the stems and leaves that support reproductive growth. The reproductive parts are the flowers that turn into the fruit we enjoy. Blueberry plants develop flowers that must be pollinated in order to produce fruit. Bees and other pollinators are essential in producing blueberries.
When you drive by a blueberry field, you typically see rows of blueberry bushes that are planted on mounds. The mounds that you see are made of pine mulch. Since Florida has very sandy soil, growers bring in pine mulch to nourish the plant. Pine mulch also controls weeds and regulates the soil temperature. This extra step allows Florida to produce delicious, juicy berries. But don’t just take my word for it, go see for yourself!
Blueberry farms harvest blueberries in April and May and many open their farms up to the public for u-pick toward the end of the season! Going to a u-pick supports your local agriculture industry and is a lot of fun! Also, be sure to check out the Florida Blueberry Growers Association for industry updates and mouth-watering blueberry recipes.