Blueberry fruits Blueberry is a spieces of shrub that belongs to the Ericaceae family grown commonly for its fruits (known as berries) of the same name. It is a perennial, woody plant that forms a crown-shaped shrub. The plant produces oval or elliptical leaves of dark green color that grow alternately on the stems. The stems are also sometimes called twigs and are yellowish-green in color but may turn reddish in colder months. The shrub creates bell-shaped flowers that occur in clusters of six to ten flowers that are white or pink in color. The flowers turn into the blue to black fruit that are up to 1.3 cm in size. The plant is quite long-lasting and can produce fruit up to 50 years after planting.
There are several different cultivars of the plant that may significantly differ in their size. For example, Lowbush blueberries, also known as Maine, New Hampshire, or wild blueberry are Native to the USA and Canada reach up to 40 cm. Highbush blueberries reach up to 5 meters in height and are known as swamp blueberry or huckleberry. They are mostly cultivated as the source of fruit for commercial production and are native to North America.
Blueberry is often cultivated as a source of food. It can be consumed raw, used in baking, and for further processing. It can also be frozen and then used to make jams and other preserves. Lowbush variety is also used to produce blueberry wine.
Blueberry is best cultivated in well-drained, acidic soil. It should be planted in early Springs. Its growth might be stimulated by field-burning as the plant is very fire-resistant. The shrub begins to produce fruit after a year after planting. Older shrubs should be pruned annually, in order to increase plant vigor and remove diseases as well as broken canes.
Up to 823328 metric tons of raw blueberries are produced each year worldwide. The yearly crop has been increasing since 2019. The largest production takes place in the United States with up to 308760 metric tons produced each year. The second-largest producer in the world is Canada with 176127 metric tons, followed by Peru with an annual crop of 142427 metric tons. Poland is the sixth-largest producer of blueberries in the world.
Global blueberry production
Blueberry production is concentrated in a few key countries around the world. in 2018, the top five producers were the United States, Chile, Canada, Mexico, and Argentina. Together, these nations accounted for over 80 percent of global blueberry production that year.
The United States has been the world's leading blueberry producer for over a decade now. In 2018, American farmers harvested 1.14 million metric tons of blueberries, worth around $2.8 billion USD. The state of Georgia is responsible for the majority of US production, followed by Oregon and then Florida.
Chile is the second largest blueberry producer in the world, with close to 400,000 metric tons harvested in 2018. The majority of Chilean blueberries are destined for export, with the European Union being the biggest market.
Canada is the third largest blueberry producer, with 383,848 metric tons harvested in 2018. The vast majority of Canadian blueberries are grown in British Columbia.
Mexico is the fourth largest blueberry producer, with 340,000 metric tons harvested in 2018. The majority of Mexican blueberries are destined for export to the United States.
Argentina rounds out the top five, with close to 280,000 metric tons of blueberries harvested in 2018. Argentine blueberries are mainly exported to neighboring countries in South America.
Looking ahead, the global blueberry market is expected to continue growing in the coming years. The fruit is increasingly popular thanks to its health benefits and versatile uses. As a result, demand for blueberries is expected to rise, especially in Asia and Latin America where the fruit is not yet as widely consumed as it is in North America and Europe. This will likely lead to further expansion of blueberry production around the world.