Georgia’s blueberry production has taken a hit for the second straight year.
A report from the University of Georgia says blueberry farmers lost 60 percent of their crop this year.
The blame can be placed on Mother Nature. An early spring freeze, followed by a lot of rain doomed the fruit whose growing season runs through July.
Charles Hall, the executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, said the two bad years have been devastating for some farmers.
“It’s very unusual to have two significant, large losses back to back like we’ve had for the past two years,” Hall said. “Unfortunately, some growers may not overcome it. They may get out of the blueberry business.”
With so many damaged crops, Hall said some farmers could have sold their crops for a higher price, but imports of the fruit ruined the chances of that happening.
“Normally, when you have a short crop, you’re going to get a better price from the retailers,” Hall said. “But then we had an oversupply of imported berries during this time period so the growers still did not get a premium price for the berries they had on the market.”
Hall says most of the imports came from Mexico.
The past couple of years have been a stark contrast to what Georgia farmers have come to expect for the crop.
In 2014, Georgia produced some 95 million pounds of blueberries. That propelled it to the No. 1-ranked state in the U.S. for production of the fruit.
Production dropped 70 percent from then to last year when only 28 million pounds were harvested.