>> Fall 2016
>> Spring 2016
>> Fall 2015
>> Spring 2015
>> Fall 2014
>> Spring 2014
>> Fall 2013
>> Spring 2012
>> Fall 2011
>> Spring 2011

field day

Yields, Quality Up; Harvest Earliest Ever in 2016 

Oregon blueberry yields and quality were up substantially from a year ago, according to growers. But the biggest story this year may be the earliness of the crop.

“It was the earliest start for us ever,” said Jeff Malensky of Oregon Berry Packing, which kicked off harvest on June 8, two days earlier than last year.

Doug Krahmer of Berries Northwest, said he was harvesting blueberries under plastic tunnels by May 31 and was picking Dukes in the open field by June 5.

“That is just really, really early,” Krahmer said.

By season’s end, Krahmer said he was on schedule with a typical year. Others, however, said that in addition to starting early, they shut down early.

“We used to get into the end of September and into October,” Malensky said in early September. “This year we will probably keep going until mid-September, but it is very minimal already. There is just not a lot of fruit out there, and the fruit that is out there is not up to the quality that we need.”

“We wrapped up Auroras by the 18th of August,” said Karl Dettwyler, “which is pretty early for us. After that heat wave the first of August, it seemed like it wasn’t worth going out and handpicking them, and the processed market didn’t seem like they wanted any more fruit, so we let that last little bit go.”

Dettwyler, like others, said that despite the dip in quality in late season, quality was vastly improved from a year ago.

“I would say quality for the most part was good. We had some struggles with certain picks, but the quality was better than last year because the heat wave came a little bit later, and it wasn’t as severe,” Dettwyler said.

“The fruit quality was definitely better than the quality last year,” Krahmer said, “because we didn’t have the scorching hot weather.”

“Some high heat in August affected quality somewhat,” Malensky said. “We also had some rain, but it didn’t hang on for too many days, so we were able to dodge through that pretty well.

“Quality was great for pretty much the whole season,” he said.

Krahmer characterized his yields as “right in line with where I anticipated them to be, and I projected a little bit of an increase, because my acres are maturing.”

Malensky said his yields were “better than last summer, but not as high as we all expected. The Duke variety yielded very well, but the mid- and late-season varieties didn’t have the volume that we thought they would,” Malensky said.

“I would say our yields were up maybe eight to ten percent on our farm,” Dettwyler said.

Other than some struggles early on, growers said they were able to meet their labor needs.

“We really struggled to get enough labor until about the 18th or 20th of June,” Krahmer said. “That is about the time the kids got out of school in California and people migrated north. Then we seemed to do alright until the end of the season in the Valley, which was about the tenth of August.”

“With that fruit coming on as early as it did, though, we were on our second picking of Dukes before we had what I would consider adequate labor,” Krahmer said.

“We handpicked 100 percent this year,” Dettwyler said, “and we were able to get the labor we needed.”



Yields, Quality Up; Harvest Earliest Ever in 2016 >>>

A Buyer's Market: Ample Supplies of Frozen Fruit Are Changing Buying Habits >>>

Bird Control Takes Center Stage >>>

OSU Offering Online Course >>>

New Findings Could Aid in Spotted Wing Control >>>

Study Shows Residue Levels Mostly Acceptable >>>

Weed Control in Blueberries >>>

Ostlund Lands Awards From Pro Chefs Oregon >>>

The 2017 Oregon Blueberry Conference >>>