Summer is almost here which means New Jersey's favorite fruit is in high demand.

"Jersey Fresh blueberries are always eagerly awaited," said Assistant State Agriculture Secretary Al Murray. "New Jersey is fourth in the nation when it comes to the cultivation of blueberries."

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 62 million pounds of blueberries were produced last year on 7,700 acres with a value of $94.7 million. The major varieties grown in New Jersey include Blue Crop and Duke, named for one of the founders of Atlantic Blueberry Company in Hammonton.

So, what makes Garden State blueberries so unique?

"The fact that our soils are a sandy, acidic soil. That's why you see blueberries grown primarily in Atlantic and Burlington counties because that's home to that soil," said Murray. "They also love the high temperatures we get in the summer and the humidity. When most of us are trying to run into the air conditioner because of the heat, blueberries are thriving and taking it all in."

New Jerseyans aren't the only ones who look forward to the blueberry season.

"Our blueberries are shipped all up and down the east coast during the height of the season. They also are sent to eastern Canada," said Murray.

"When it comes to selecting blueberries, first you should look for ones that are fresh and plump. Pay attention to the color. They should be blue, black, bluish-black or purple and they should have a gray, waxy deposit on the skin. That's the bloom and that means they're fresh," said Murray. "Blueberries should last about a day if they aren't refrigerated and five to six days if they're in the refrigerator. Don't wash them until you're ready to eat them."

To find pick-your-own blueberry farms or markets carrying Jersey Fresh blueberries, visit or