- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
I'm not sure about writer Cecelia Parsons' opening analogy - the "blue wave" cresting and growers "still putting their boards in the water" - but her article in Capital Press about last week's blueberry field day at the UC Kearney Research and Extension Center did hit all the important points.
Now that blueberry production in the Central Valley has been underway for the better part of a decade, and many growers have invested heavily to coax the healthful fruit out of the Valley's uncooperative alkaline soil, folks are starting to wonder what to do with what is beginning to look like a more than abundant crop.
A speaker at the blueberry field day - Mark Villata, executive director of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council - said its time to build on blueberry's healthful image to increase consumption, the article said. In the West, only 42 percent of consumers reported buying blueberries, compared with 58 percent in the Northeast. Ideas for new uses, ranging from pet food to cosmetics, were also raised.
Parsons noted in her story that UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisor Manuel Jimenez pioneered some of the early blueberry trials in California. She mentioned that Jimenez organized the field day and showed visitors some of the successes and challenges with blueberry plants growing at Kearney.