- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The UC Small Farm Program this year offered a "Week of Blueberries," with four blueberry field days in one week at four different locations. Even though the Week of Blueberries came to an end last Friday, the information is still reaching the public today in an Adobe Press news story.
The article covered the Nipomo event, and noted that the other field days were offered in Santa Paula, Camarillo and Parlier.
“We’ve been working 10 years to establish blueberries as a coastal crop for small farms,” UC small farm advisor Mark Gaskell is quoted. “There is an increasing number of growers in the Santa Maria Valley and San Luis Obispo.”
The story, by reporter Mike Hodgsen, said about 5,000 acres of blueberries are being grown in California, most of those in the Central Valley where the operations tend to be much larger.
“In fact, one of the largest (blueberry farms) in the world is in the Central Valley,” Gaskell was quoted.
Ten years ago, blueberry production in the valley, with its alkaline soils and hot summers, was almost unheard of. UC farm advisor Manual Jimenez began trials of southern highbush varieties and kick-started what is now a healthy blueberry industry. Concerns are now focused on increased market competition.
“Even though demand continues to go up, I think the supply on our side has been going up very, very fast in a short period of time,” Jimenez was quoted in the article. “All that new blueberry acreage is coming into production right about now. Growers need to realize that added acreage someplace else means more competition and possibly fewer places to sell our blueberries.”