WHAT ARE BLUEBERRIES?
Blueberries are small, round dark blue berries. A berry is a
small juicy fruit without a stone.
WHERE ARE BLUEBERRIES PRODUCED IN BC?
99% of BC blueberries are grown in the Fraser Valley in Richmond,
Pitt Meadows, Matsqui Prairie and Surrey.
HOW MANY BLUEBERRIES DO WE PRODUCE?
produces about 95% of the Canadian production of cultivated
blueberries. This is about 9 million kilograms per year. About 70%
of these are processed; the others are bought fresh for export and
local consumption through stores and farmgate outlets. In BC, about
2045 ha are farmed by over 450 farm families.
HOW ARE BLUEBERRIES PRODUCED?
require an acidic soil. Good drainage and nutrient balance is
important for blueberries. Blueberries were once grown only on peat
(drained bogs), but now production is moving into areas of mineral
A blueberry plant is started from a plant cutting rooted in
rooting soil. The first year is spent in a greenhouse and then the
bush is planted in rows in a field. A mulch is placed around the
plants. The main advantage of mulching is to regulate the soil
temperatures. Blueberries are very shallow rooted and can be
affected by high or low soil temperatures. A mulch also keeps the
soil moist, aids in water conservation, and keeps the weeds down.
Plants must be pruned each year to ensure good quality berries. If
there is too much excess growth, the berries will be small.
Pollination is important. Farmers rent bee hives during flowering to
ensure good pollination. A blueberry plant can grow to 2 to 2.5m and
can live up to 50 years.
Berries are harvested 2 to 4 times usually every 10 to 14 days
between July and September. Berries for the fresh market are
hand-picked -- one-by-one from the bush! Berries for the processed
market are harvested using self-propelled harvesters. More growers
are moving towards machine picking because of the cost of labour
relative to the price of blueberries.
Blueberries are deciduous plants which loose their leaves. Fall
leaf colour ranges from yellow to crimson to dark red. Leaf colour
also changes in early spring and summer after periods of cool
temperature to dull purple over dark green background.
WHAT DO BLUEBERRIES LOOK LIKE WHEN I USE IT?
Blueberries can be eaten fresh or processed into pie filling,
jam, jelly or syrup. They are also frozen, processed into baked
goods, muffin mixes and purees.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE BLUEBERRIES LEAVE THE FARM?
After harvest the berries are either sold fresh or sent to a
processor or packer. There are about 10 processors and packers,
including a farmer-owned cooperative called Lulabelle which consists
of about 250 farmers. From here, blueberries are distributed to
wholesalers who export BC blueberries throughout the world including
the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia.
WHAT CHALLENGES DO BLUEBERRY PRODUCERS FACE?
In the 1980s, the blueberry industry realized they needed to
increase the demand for their product. The North American Blueberry
Council (NABC) organized a major, co-operative promotional campaign
all across the continent. The industry supplied recipes, did
in-store demonstrations and helped retailers with special
promotions. The result was a 200% increase in demand for
blueberries. Marketing is a continuing challenge as acreage is
increasing. The BC Blueberry Council (associated with NABC) does
promotion for BC farmers. Farmers pay 1 cent/lb to the council for
promotion and research.
A second challenge is trying to protect crops from birds which
are major predators of blueberries. Farmers use sound devices and
control devices such as hawk kites and balloons to scare birds. Some
municipalities, in areas with encroaching urban populations, have
regulated the use of sound devices because of complaints from urban
WHO'S INVOLVED IN PRODUCING BLUEBERRIES?
- Blueberry producers
- Field workers for crop maintenance
- Pest management services
- Extension workers
- Market/promotion workers,
- Fertilizer and pesticide salespeople
- Nursery workers and owners (for nursery stock)
1 cup blueberries (140g)
||Calories from Fat 0
||% Daily Value*
|Total Fat 0g
|Saturated Fat 0g
|Total Carbohydrate 19g
|Dietary Fibre 5g
|Vitamin A 0%
||Vitamin C 15%
|*Percent Daily Values are based
on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Interesting Fact About Blueberries:
BC is one of the top three blueberry producing regions in the
world. In the last 10 or 15 years, per capita consumption of
blueberries has doubled.
- Contacts and other resources:
- BCMAL -
- North American Blueberry