In the US, blueberries are thought-about the second most essential cultivated berry after strawberries. To begin a blueberry farm may very well be a superb long-term funding. As soon as established blueberry vegetation might be productive for 25 years. To begin a blueberry farm you will need to take a long-term view. Blueberries take about 7 years to achieve full maturity and manufacturing. This implies it takes a number of funding, laborious work and endurance whereas it’s being developed. Nonetheless it may be rewarding in the long term. You can begin getting some restricted manufacturing the third yr of progress. The quantity of manufacturing will rely on the varieties chosen. You’ll most likely not see vital blueberry manufacturing till in regards to the fourth yr of progress.
In beginning a blueberry farm my recommendation can be to first do analysis about rising blueberries, discover the varieties that may do nicely in your space. Plant early, mid-season and late season ripening varieties to increase your time to reap and promote blueberries. Give them loads of area in between for air circulation by pruning them as wanted. In case you are planning to be a big business manufacturing, some varieties lend themselves higher to machine harvest than others, selected varieties that ripening just about the identical time for machine harvesting.
Area, Soil and water necessities
Nicely drained soil wealthy in natural materials is a necessity for good blueberry manufacturing.
Earlier than beginning rising blueberries it’s important that you’ve your soil examined by the native extension service to study what amendments could also be required. The soil for instance should have a pH between four.6 and 5.1. Blueberry vegetation is not going to develop adequately until the pH necessities of the soil are met. Blueberries require soils with good drainage and excessive natural matter. These two necessities might be met by including natural matter to the soil and utilizing raised beds to verify there’s good drainage. It’s best to plant a couple of cultivar to make sure good pollination and a steady harvest of berries.
Additionally a supply of water for irrigation is a requirement to develop blueberries commercially. You may count on to have the ability to develop sufficient blueberries on 10 acres on appropriate land as soon as the vegetation have reached maturity make a livelihood. It’s smart to begin with a small variety of vegetation at first to undergo a studying curve earlier than beginning with bigger numbers of vegetation. You must begin getting ready you soil and killing weeds the yr earlier than planting.
Mounted equipment wanted contains sprayers, rotary mowers, wagons, tractors, hedgers, vehicles, spreaders, mulchers, harrows and rotary tiller
Plant choice and purchases
Normally two-year-old potted or bare-root vegetation are offered by nurseries are your greatest buy. Older vegetation might offer you a harvest sooner, however they’re usually not cost-effective due to their added expense and might be more durable to ascertain. Youthful vegetation should be grown in pots underneath nursery situations earlier than they’ll survive planting within the area so once more aren’t often cost-effective. You need to develop varieties that may make good revenue. Bluecrop, and blueray are two northern varieties that many use as their principal vegetation. Bluegold can be a preferred plant. Within the south rabbiteyes akin to Tifblue, Premier, Powder blue are widespread cash makers. Legacy, Misty, O’Neal and Ozarkblue are additionally widespread with some growers. Choose vegetation in your rising zone and vegetation with the flavour and maintaining high quality that fits you.
Economics of blue berry farming
The excessive preliminary the start-up prices for blueberries is excessive, that is primarily as a consequence of land preparation, labor prices and plant buying price. Nonetheless, after the vegetation attain maturity in roughly 5 to seven years, the earnings ought to steadily improve. When you’ve got restricted funds you can begin small, provide your individual labor and maintain your price down whereas creating your farm.
In very broad normal phrases for a mature ongoing blueberry operation about 50% to 65% of the sale value goes to pay bills. For farms that promote as You-pick operation the bills are lowest and might be solely 35% of the gross sales. For gross sales to shops and different markets the associated fee are greater. The longevity of a correctly managed blueberry area is 15 to 30 years.
Establishing a blueberry planting requires a big funding of money and time. Primarily based on plenty of assumptions, I estimate we spent institution prices amounting to about $10,000 per acre getting our vegetation rising. Earlier than full manufacturing is achieved in Yr 7, in 2010 you may spend nicely over $150,000 in money to finance the institution of a 10 acre blueberry operation.
Usually blueberry vegetation attain full manufacturing of their seventh yr after planting. The primary yr there is no such thing as a manufacturing, the second you possibly can count on about 1500 kilos per acre after which it grows exponentially until they attain full manufacturing of round 6000 kilos per acre. The scale of the harvest is determined by many components such because the blueberry selection, local weather, situation of the soil, water availability and so forth. Clearly you possibly can see that the primary three years are the hardest. You’ve got made an enormous funding and will not see any vital return on it until the fourth yr after planting.
You will need to decide the market earlier than beginning a blueberry farm.
In case you are inside about 40 miles of a giant inhabitants space u-pick is an choice to think about.
Advertising at farmers markets and gross sales on to shops is one other different.
You may promote your blueberries as a part of a neighborhood supported agriculture system (CSA). This may give you an everyday and regular market. It additionally supplies a chance to construct a relationship along with your prospects.
The three major strategies of harvesting are: 1) u-pick, 2) Farm hand selecting and three) machine selecting. A u-pick or farm hand selecting is most sensible when first beginning out with solely a small variety of blueberry vegetation. It usually requires a minimum of 10 acres of blueberries earlier than machine selecting is price efficient.