Getting Ready for the Florida Blueberry Season
Find out when to expect berries this Florida blueberry season.
Florida blueberries are on their way! The season typically runs from sometime in March through May. While the exact dates are not set in stone, the season for Florida blueberries typically lasts for about six weeks spanning March, April, and May. Explore the ins-and-outs of the Florida blueberrry season, and learn how to find the best blueberries for you and your family, below.
The Florida Blueberry Season
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, (FDACS), blueberries are available in April and May. However, Florida blueberry growers will tell you that blueberries can be ready as early as March. The factors that go into determining the beginning of the blueberry season are many, but the main factor is the weather from December through March.
Blueberries need a certain amount of cold weather in order for the fruit to develop correctly. Called “chill hours,” this requirement for cold weather cannot be controlled through any other means. Florida blueberry bushes have the lowest chill hour requirements of any other blueberry bush cultivars, but they still need that base amount of cold weather. Too little or too many chill hours can alter a season for the worst.
The timing of the cold weather is important as well. Once the fruit has started to emerge on the branch, freezing temperatures can damage the berries. A cold snap in March of 2017 brought freezing temperatures and intense crop loss to blueberry growers across the Southeast. The outlook for this year's Florida blueberry crop, and for the rest of the Southeast, is much better for 2018. However, the jury is still out as to whether the rest of the country will see blueberries from Florida in March this year.
If you live in the rest of the country, you can find Florida blueberries in the produce section of your local grocery store. Examine the plastic clamshell container the blueberries are in and look for the ‘Fresh from Florida’ mark. Florida blueberries should have this logo to let everyone knows the berries came from The Sunshine State. Generally, the only other competitors are berries from South America. These berries generally have been picked a bit early and shipped a long way, so their quality is not as good as blueberries from Florida.
If you live in Florida, you can find local, fresh blueberries in your grocery stores as well, but you can find them even fresher. Florida boasts an array of You-Pick blueberry farms that offer the most affordable, freshest blueberries available. Find a You-Pick Florida blueberry farm near you using this blueberry farm locator tool offered by FDACS.