What is in this article?:
- Georgia blueberries OK despite heavy rains
- Harvest strategy critical this year
- Georgia blueberris bloomed late because of the cool spring, but most farmers didn't see a large delay in their harvests.
- Despite getting more than 35 inches of rain this year so far, farmers avoided serious problems.
GEORGIA'S blueberry-producing region, in the south-central part of it, so far this year has received more than 35 inches of rain, or near the total amout for an average year. Despite the drenching, harvest and production are better than expected.
Harvest strategy critical this year
To account for the rain, farmers had to pick their berries at strategic times of the day, working around the damp or dewy hours.
"It's preferable to harvest your blueberries dry and bring them to market," Smith said. "What [farmers] have been trying to do is harvest after the morning dews have dried and end the harvest before they get rains and get their blueberries under cover."
This year's crop bloomed late because of the cool spring, but most farmers didn't see a large delay in their harvests. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 81 percent of Georgia's blueberries were harvested by July 1, placing this year less than a week behind the crop progress in 2012.
"It's not quite [done], but it's really close to wrapped up," Smith said. "A lot of the blueberries that are going through the processes right now are going to be either quick frozen or frozen blueberries that are going to be put into storage. So we're right at the tail end of it right now."
More than 65 million pounds of Georgia blueberries were produced in 2011, and the crop's farm gate value was more than $254 million. The popular fruit comprised almost 40 percent of Georgia's fruit and nut industry.
"If you're a Georgian buying Georgia blueberries ... you're buying a blueberry that's very close to the market, that's very close to your house and supporting the people of your state," Smith said. "And I think that is one of the greatest advantages of buying a Georgia blueberry."