Art Galletta: New Jersey blueberry volume looking similar to last year
New Jersey should see about the same or perhaps just slightly lower volume of blueberries as last year, according to Art Galletta, president of Atlantic Blueberry Co., headquartered in Hammonton, NJ.
“I think the volume for the state might just be a touch under last year’s production,” Galletta told The Produce News Wednesday, May 18. “There were a couple of areas that got some frost damage, and just some minor damage in the Hammonton area. Last year was around 40 million pounds for the state, and we’re thinking maybe 38-40 million for this year, in that range.”
As for when the state’s blueberry season would start, Galletta said, “I think you’ll see some guys starting around the 10th or 11th of June, and most people will be in by the 13th. It’ll ramp up into good production by the 15th to the 17th.” If those dates work out, the timing could be quite good.
“It looks like the state has a pretty good window,” he said. “Our southern competition,” he said, meaning Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, “is down a bit; they’ve had some freeze damage.” The western competition, being Michigan, Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia, “is running a little later than normal. So, it looks like we have a pretty fair window,” he said.
Atlantic Blueberry Co. itself, which Galletta called the largest blueberry grower on the East Coast, grows primarily the Duke and Bluecrop varieties, plus some Drapers, a mid-season variety, and some Elliotts, a late-season variety.
As it historically has done, the company is also “taking some older fields out and planting some of the newer varieties that look really good,” he said. “So that’s exciting.”
Commenting on the new electronic sorting equipment that Atlantic had purchased last year, Galletta stated, “We were really pleased with the performance of the machines, and I think we’re planning on expanding that type of thing in the future. We’re going to be evaluating that real hard this year. So that’s on the horizon. Those machines produce an almost perfect product. And quality is the name of the game.”
Asked about inflation, which has risen throughout the country and parts of the world, Galletta said, “Everything is costing more, the fertilizer, the plant protection materials, the packaging, transportation.
But last season was a successful one. We got through all the rearranging stuff for COVID-19. It ended up where our crop increased a little, and we did OK. Now the green light is on.”