Blueberry season is here in New Jersey
The first of July, and New Jersey blueberries are in stores and in season. And this promises to be a good year for the crop, according to Garden State farmers.
Kurt Alstede, owner and founder of Alstede farms in Chester township, Morris County, says this year's blueberry crop is a good one.
"We have a very bountiful crop this year, and I think it is a combination of weather that allowed for a large fruit set in terms of blossoms, good honeybee activity during pollination time and now a good fruit set.
The United States Department of Agriculture ranks the Garden State fifth in the nation in blueberry production.
"Blueberries are a very important crop to the state of New Jersey," Alstede said.
An almost $80 million crop in 2014, according to the U.S.D.A., with the center of production in the Hammonton/Chatsworth area, where blueberries were first cultivated in the United States.
"What really leads to New Jersey's prominence in blueberry production is how naturally acclimated the high bush blueberries are to the Pinelands region," Alstede said. "You have this natural combination of a high water table, well-drained soil with high organic matter, all of which lead to the perfect growing conditions for the high-bush blueberry."
Alstede said at his farm in North Jersey, they have to make some adaptations to allow the blueberries to grow better. He said South Jersey blueberry farms sustained some building damage from last week's big storm, but the crops in Atlantic and Burlington counties survived.
"Most of the damage that I am aware of occurred south of the major blueberry growing regions, more in the Cumberland, Gloucester county areas, where the blueberries are more in Atlantic and Burlington counties," he said.