The top ten US states for growing blueberries span a wide range of climates and geographical locations. In all of them, the healthfulness attributed to the fruit is making its growth an increasingly lucrative prospect for farmers. Blueberry production and processing has flourished in the global market over the past ten years, almost doubling in the US during that period alone. The main driver behind the fruit crop’s popularity is definitely the increased public awareness and interest in the numerous health benefits attributed to the berry. According to USDA research, blueberries are rich in anti-oxidant phytonutrients that help in quenching the activity of free radicals in the body’s cells. Free radicals are suspected to play a role in cardiovascular problems, as well as the development of cancer. Washington is reportedly the blueberry capital of the US at the moment, yielding over 96.1 million pounds, while New York rounds out the top ten with 1.6 million pounds.
10. New York - 1.6 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
Upon about 700 blueberry-growing acres, New York yielded 1.6 million pounds of the crop this past year to currently rank as the 10th most successful blueberry-producing state nationwide. These volumes are, however, expected to be up due to more of the bushes approaching full production as a result of more favorable weather conditions. The summer weather of the state and its frequent rains make New York blueberries especially plump and sweet. The harvest season normally runs for about ten weeks, peaking in the time between late July and early August.
9. Mississippi - 8.5 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
Most of Mississippi’s blueberry acreage lies in southeastern sections of the state. The reason for this concentration is because blueberries are native to areas with conditions similar to Mississippi’s southeast, such as pine forests. The ‘Rabbit-Eye’ is one of the most important native species grown commercially in the state. This particular variety produces quality fruits and is adapted to the local growing environment. Another reason for the concentration of blueberry acreage in the southeastern part of the state is that many researchers working in and around that area selected varieties and came up with cultivation practices for the crop that were region-specific. Mississippi registered a blueberry yield of 8.5 million pounds this past year.
8. Florida - 16 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
Around 20 years ago, there was practically no commercial production of blueberries in Florida, except for those berries grown on small plots for local markets. Florida’s blueberry production this past year was 16 million pounds, thus putting the state in the ranks of leading blueberry producing states. Blueberry production in Florida has exploded in recent years, predominately due to the introduction of new ‘Southern Highbush’ varieties developed by the University of Florida. These varieties require very few hours of chill for growth, and also are high-bearers of fruit. As consumer demand for the crop has continued to increase over the years, it has motivated this citrus-growing state to promote the growth of another kind of colorful fruit closer to the ground.
7. North Carolina - 48.5 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
North Carolina has consistently been among the top 10 blueberry producing states nationwide, even though large-scale commercial production is limited to about eight or nine counties near the southeast corner of the state. Blueberries can, however, be grown in any place within the state if the ideal blueberry species are cultivated and the necessary soil modifications are made. In many areas in the southeast section of the state, their characteristic "salt and pepper" types of soil is usually considered poor land for most crops. For commercial blueberry growers, however, this type of soil is the perfect growing medium. This past year, the state yielded 48.5 million pounds of blueberries.
6. California - 53.4 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
Until recently, it was quite difficult to find commercial blueberry farms in the state of California. Blueberries were traditionally acclimated to northern forests, and it took advancements in technology, and daring growers, to fuel the exceptional California blueberry boom that has occurred over the last decade. This past season, the state yielded 53.4 million pounds of blueberries, and currently ranks sixth nationwide. This great blueberry production boom, however, did not come easily. It took the help of some heat-loving varieties from Florida, as well as several exotic ‘Falcon’ varieties, in addition to the technical growing prowess necessary to make it happen.
5. New Jersey - 56.7 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
New Jersey is currently the fifth highest blueberry producing state in the U.S. Despite the state’s small size relative to other leaders, New Jersey growers have registered yields of 56.7 million pounds of blueberries this year alone. Amazingly, most of this harvest comes from about 8,800 acres only, with over 80% of New Jersey’s blueberries originating from Atlantic County. Loads of blueberries are usually packaged and transported to markets throughout the US and Canada at the Atlantic Blueberry Company at Hammonton. What makes the blueberries from New Jersey so perfect are the favorable temperatures and soil conditions of the area.
4. Oregon - 86.1 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
Harvested blueberry acreage in the state of Oregon has grown nearly four-fold over the last one and a half decades in order to be able to handle and cash in on the increasing demands for the crop. Oregon currently ranks fourth in statewide production of blueberries in the US, with a yield of 86.1 million pounds this year. Despite the fact that most of the blueberry acreage in the state is located in the Willamette Valley, commercial blueberry production is also common throughout the Mid-Columbia area, where there are a number of existing, commercially successful blueberry operations.
3. Michigan - 92 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
Most of Michigan’s blueberry production takes place in Southwest Michigan, where the high water tables and sandy soil provide excellent conditions for blueberry growth. These particular soils are very moist, and have a slightly acidic pH ranging between 4.5 and 5.5. There are over 20 blueberry varieties that are commercially grown on a large scale in Michigan. The state’s harvest season usually runs from June all the way into October. Blueberries have been a commercial success in the state, yielding about 92 million pounds this year.
2. Georgia - 92 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
Many Georgia farmers have worked relentlessly over the past three decades to boost their state’s blueberry production and adequately meet the demands of consumers. The increase in blueberry production in the state has been bolstered by the extension support and research of the University of Georgia’s faculty and facilities. Georgia has produced 92 million pounds of blueberries this year, according to the North American Blueberry Council. Not long ago, Georgia farmers grew about 3,500 acres of blueberries, but today they are cultivating over 20,000 acres of the crop, and production has grown tenfold.
1. Washington - 96.1 Million Pounds of Blueberries Produced
Washington’s first blueberry plantings began over 50 years ago. In the past, when blueberries were just getting established in the state, there were only a few growers and a handful of processors who would buy their fruits. Most growers had very small acreages, and many sold most of their produce directly from farm-side stands. Today, it has become the highest blueberry producing state in the US, yielding about 96.1 million pounds over the past year. Though Washington has commercialized the crop for many years, until recently growth was mostly limited to acreage on the western side of the Cascades. The acreage has, over the last few years, increased significantly to cover a larger extent of the state.