The number of acres of blueberries you need to farm to be profitable will vary depending on things like the scale of your operations, the varieties of blueberries you plant, as well as the climate of your farm location.
Just like farming any other fruit or plant, everything from the soil preparation to the planting, caring, irrigation, and period of harvesting affects the quantity and quality of yield. Have it in mind that the same goes for farming blueberries.
Blueberry farming has long been a thing, and not just a thing, but a viable enterprise for those who are experienced and willing to put in the work.
They are classified in the section of Cyanococcus within the genus Vaccinium. They are known to be very nutritious, healthy, and well-known throughout the world. Also note that the demand and value in the market are massive, as such commercial blueberry production is a field to consider if you have the resources
Have it in mind that the farming of blueberries necessitates substantial resources like adequate funding, attention, and patience.
Normally, blueberry plants attain full production in their 7th year after planting. Note that there is no production within the first year of planting. In the second year, you can anticipate around 1500 pounds per acre, but afterward, the plants start to grow till they attain full production of about 6000 pounds per acre.
Once they attain full production, you can start selling them either to consumers or to businesses. If you manage to sell them for $5.00 a pound, this translates to around $25,000 to $100,000 an acre a year.
Tips to Help Boost Blueberry Farm Yields
Many people see the farming of blueberries as being overly difficult and stressful; however, blueberries are one of the easiest plants to grow. To help you boost your blueberry farm yields, here are tips to take into account.
The right soil pH
Just as it was noted earlier, everything from the soil preparation to the planting, caring, irrigation, and period of harvesting affects the quantity and quality of yield. Owing to that, if you want your harvest to be bountiful, you need to make sure that the soil is right.
Blueberries need strongly acidic soil conditions (pH around 4.0 and 5.6) to grow. To attain optimum fruit production, ensure to test the soil pH prior to planting, and modify the soil with sulfur if the soil doesn’t meet the requirement.
Pick the appropriate varieties
There are numerous varieties of blueberries to pick from when looking to farm them for profit. A good number of them are native to the United States.
Blueberry varieties are categorized into various classes: Highbush, Lowbush, Half-High, and Rabbiteye. Have it in mind that making the right choices, particularly considering the soil type and climate will ensure bountiful yield when the time is right.
Mulching is essential
The importance of mulching in blueberry farming cannot be overemphasized. Note that blueberries tend to possess very shallow roots, and mulch helps to shield the Blueberry roots from extreme weather conditions. Also note that as the mulch melts, it blesses the fruit with an organic layer to further protect the Blueberry roots.
Aside from that, mulching also helps in controlling weeds by reducing weed seed germination, restricting weed growth, as well as favoring the blueberries by conserving soil moisture.
Note that mixing organic matter, for instance, pine bark, pine needles, leaves, hay, and many more organic matters would help with soil health. However, pay close attention to make sure the mulching doesn’t increase the soil pH. Avoid acid mulch as well as commercial compost where lime has been added to the mulch.
One thing you have to keep in mind as a blueberry farmer is that they require enough water to grow. Blueberries have a fibrous root system, and they are pretty prone to drought injury. You have to ensure that the crops have adequate water from the growing season to the fruit production period.
Aside from that, blueberries like most other fruits, are primarily water, and as such require adequate water or moisture during fruit production to guarantee optimum fruit production and quality.
Regularly prune for more berries
You have to understand that once your crops attain full maturity, they blossom and the fruit grows wood every year. Also, note that the stems will eventually become fruitless with age. Regularly pruning the blueberries will help maintain plant size, shape, and productivity.
Blueberry bushes that have not been pruned on an annual basis may become overgrown and less fruitful. Ensure to prune shrubs in late winter, because at that time the Blueberries are dormant, and their large buds are easy to see. Do not cut more than ¼ inch over healthy buds.
Ensure to get sharp bypass cutters for quick, angular cuts. Avoid pruning your Blueberry plants within the first 2 to 3 years except to take away bad sticks.
You can also do away with greasy fruit buds in the first year to ensure that your plant can grow very well and establish the appropriate root system. Once they are past their third year, a mature Blueberry plant has 15-18 canes sprouting from its crown. Regularly pruning them at this point onwards will control the crop to improve the quality of the fruit.
When looking to start a blueberry farm, it is recommended you invest adequate time into finding out the right varieties for your area considering the soil type and climate. It is often advisable that you plant blueberries that have early, mid-season, and late-season ripening abilities to further extend your time of harvest.