Summary of the previous year and our plans for the upcoming season you will find in an article on freshplaza.com
Preparations are being made for this year’s blueberry season in Poland. Blueberry growers are finishing with pruning and the blossoming is set to start around the beginning of May. The season usually starts at the beginning of July, give or take a week.
According to the owner of Polish blueberry supplier Milbor, Piotr Milewski, “Last year was pretty difficult because of the weather conditions. A lot of plantations were damaged because of the heat and the drought, so it will probably impact the yield of the coming season. However, the new plantings will compensate for production losses which means that production should be around the same level as last year, if not better.”
Last year’s heat will have an impact on the growth of the bushes. Piotr said that it will not only be a quality issue, but the new shoots will not be at the level that they should be. However, as long as there are no surprises this year with the weather, he believes that things should be back to normal by 2017.
Polish blueberry season
Blueberry demand is still on the rise around Europe, so there have been no negative effects on the price in recent years due to the increase in acreage of blueberries in Poland, but the demand is compensating for this growth. Milbor’s customers have been increasing their order amounts year on year, so the company continues to see growth. There is good demand in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, which are the company’s main markets. Scandinavia also has good demand and Piotr said that even markets that have typically low consumption for blueberries, such as France, are showing signs of growth and have great potential.
Search for new late varieties
Milbor is looking into new late blueberry varieties from the University of Michigan and Fall Creek Nursery, but they will still need to test these to see if they also work in the Polish climate.
“The main idea behind looking into new varieties, is to cover late August, September, or even the beginning of October. Poland can have some very strong winters, so we need to see if there is a variety which can survive our climate. It might take a few years, but once we find the right late variety, it will be a game changer.” said Milewski.
“Polish blueberries are later than their competitors in the Northern Hemisphere such as Germany and the Netherlands, so in terms of early varieties we can get into those markets without a problem with quality. There is a gap in later varieties which is why we are looking for varieties for Sept./October. We start to see competition from Peru and Chile (which comes a bit later) during the beginning of September, but the quality for the early varieties, especially taste wise, is not ideal because they want to be first and pick it while unripe. They tend to be acidic which is why we think we will be able to win over the competition.”
There is a lot of talk about recent competition from Romania, but Piotr says that he hasn’t felt any impact from it. A lot of companies from western Europe have been investing there, but he thinks that they might provide some competition for the earlier varieties that are ready by July and sometimes as early as the end of June, but not for the later varieties.
Polish demand evolving
“Blueberry prices became very low a couple of years ago which brought a boost in consumption. People who usually couldn’t afford them started trying them and liked them. We see that there is more domestic consumption and that is good news for us. Blueberries were not traditional Polish fruit, production started only 20 years ago, so it takes time for consumers to learn, taste and start enjoying the product.” concludes Piotr.
Learn more about machines for packing and sorting blueberries: