Oregon Blueberry Industry
Oregon blueberries are a favorite treat among Oregonians during summer months. Not only are they valued for their remarkable taste and great quality, but also their high nutritional value. Each of these factors has led to an exponential growth of the blueberry industry over the last 10 years. In 2016, Oregon farmers are expected to harvest over 100 million pounds of blueberries, a production record (Oregon Blueberry Commission)!
Oregon blueberry farms are very diverse, ranging from large operations that export blueberries nationally and internationally, to less than 10 acre farms offering small U-Pick options. Oregon is one of the top blueberry producing states in the nation, with harvest averaging 20,000 pounds per acre (Oregon Blueberry Commission).
Blueberries can either be handpicked or harvested by a machine. Less berries are lost when picked by hand, but harvesting by machine is much quicker and reduces labor costs. The blueberry harvester straddles a single row of blueberry bushes, and uses beaters to shake the blueberries off of the branches. The blueberries are then captured on plates underneath the harvester and sent up a conveyor, where workers sort out sticks and other debris. Finally, crates are filled with blueberries and stacked at the back of the machine. Once all crates are filled, they are loaded onto a truck and sent to be cleaned at a processing facility.
Whether cultivated, wild, fresh or frozen, blueberries contain high levels of beneficial antioxidants, which help our bodies stay healthy and prevent diseases. Blueberries are high in vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. They also contain 3.6 grams of fiber per serving, helping meet daily requirements. With just 80 calories per cup, why not enjoy a handful (U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council)?
- Blueberry Facts:
- Over 20 varieties of blueberries exist in Oregon
- Blueberry harvest typically occurs from July to September
- Blueberries are grown commercially in 38 states
- Antioxidants in blueberries may help prevent damage caused by cancer, heart disease, and
- Blueberries can be used as a natural food dye
- The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of blueberries
- Michigan leads the nation in blueberry production
- Blueberries are native to North America and were first cultivated for sale in 1916