''Producers should be optimistic''

Nova Scotia’s wild blueberry crop looks good

At the annual field day at Slack Farms Ltd., in Debert, Wild Blueberry Producers Association of N.S. (WBPANS) General Manager, Peter Rideout, said the Wild blueberry crop looked good and appeared to be near recent average harvest figures. The around 300 growers and processors in attendance were hence told they should be optimistic about this year’s harvest.

Given more rain and warmer temperatures, Maine’s crop could reach the state’s annual average of 90-100 million pounds, Dr. Dave Yarborough said. The University of Maine blueberry specialist noted that the crop faced some weather challenges earlier this year – a mild winter, followed by a cool spring – that put the plants under stress and caused some injury. Nevertheless, he said it was very good pollination weather.

Rideout said WBPANS was working to reduce the holdover of the 2015 harvest that was in inventory. He said there was increased demand in overseas markets and a more favourable exchange rate due to a lower Canadian dollar. Neri Vautour, Wild Blueberry Association of North America (WBANA) Canada’s executive-director, told growers that its market promotional agency has increased activities in Europe and Asia. He urged industry representatives to encourage federal trade officials to work on foreign government tariffs to increase market access for Wild blueberry exports. Vautour observed that China imposes a 30 percent tariff plus a 17 percent surcharge on frozen Canadian Wild blueberries, whereas Chile has negotiated tariff-free access to the Chinese market for its highbush exports.

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