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Diamond’s Dave Berger ‘always excited’ to start the new season

Dave Berger was very much looking forward to the start of the 2020 New Jersey blueberry season when he spoke to The Produce News last month.

Berger, who heads sales at Diamond Blueberry Inc. in Hammonton, NJ, noted that looking back over time, Jersey blueberries have started in some years close to June 5, while in other years they have started close to June 15.

Asked Wednesday, May 20, when he thought the 2020 New Jersey blueberry season would begin, he replied, “The weather has been cool, so it’s hard to say,” but a start date of June 10 was “in the ballpark, plus or minus a few days,” depending on the weather in the weeks leading up to the harvest.

Asked about volume, Berger said, “We had a decent year last year, it’s going to be comparable this year, hopefully. Not a bumper crop, not a bad crop. It’s a nice crop.”

Asked how he thought berry sizing would end up this season, he replied, “It’s too soon to tell. The bees are just getting ready to leave,” so the berries are just beginning to form.

Diamond Blueberry Inc., which is the sales agent for Variety Farms and Bridge Avenue Farms, will have primarily Duke and Bluecrop varieties, which should account for at least 90 percent of its volume. It has some Elliott variety berries for the end of the season. And it has about 60 acres of the Draper variety, which is a mid-season variety.

With the Jersey product due around mid-June or so, he noted that Georgia blueberries were “wrapping up” on May 20, and “Carolina berries were in the market” on the date of this interview.

Asked if there were any new additions or upgrades at the facility, he said that Diamond Blueberry “picked up one more picking machine over the winter,” giving the company a total of 12.

And as New Jersey’s new blueberry season was getting closer, Berger was eagerly anticipating getting started.

“I’m always excited about it,” he said. “If a baseball player goes into the new season not excited, he might as well stay home, right?”

So is it going to be a good season for New Jersey blueberries?

“Let me tell you, you cannot predict the season, you cannot predict against Mother Nature because she always wins. You take it one day at a time, and hope for the best.”

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