2018 a Challenging Year for Michigan Blueberries
Mark Longstroth, a Michigan State University Extension fruit educator, details the wild weather that resulted in the smallest Michigan blueberry crop since 2005 in his latest Extension bulletin. This year’s crop was estimated to be around 66 million pounds, and the 10-year average is about 98-million pounds.
“This will be the poorest blueberry crop year since 2005 and 2003 when the crop was 66 and 63 million pounds, respectively. At that time, the blueberry acreage in Michigan was about 17,000 acres,” Longstroth writes. “Today, the acreage is more than 20,000 acres. I expect the average yields for 2018 to be about 3,500 pounds per acre, much below our average of 5,000 pounds per acre.”
Fluctuating warm temperatures and extreme cold certainly didn’t help the crop, Longstroth says. And the season was cut short a month early with a short crop of later varieties. But, Longstroth points to pollination problems as the biggest factor.
“The main reason for the poor blueberry crop in 2018 was poor pollination conditions with cold, rainy conditions at the beginning of bloom and very hot conditions at the end of bloom,” he writes