Reporting Pat Loeb
By Pat Loeb
ATLANTIC COUNTY, N.J. (CBS) - The warmer-than-usual spring weather has brought New Jersey blueberries to the table nearly two weeks earlier than normal. You can already find the berries on sale.
Blueberry season normally peaks right around Fourth of July but not this year, according to assistant agriculture secretary Al Murray.
“We started picking in New Jersey on May 31st which is basically unheard of,” he said. “And as a result, we’re right now into big volumes of New Jersey blueberries.”
Murray credits the weather but some smaller producers in Burlington County say that warm spell ended with a sucker punch — three days of frost that killed the flowers on their bushes, leaving them with no blueberries at all.
Larger farms in Atlantic County, though, say they expect a good crop, though the season will end by the beginning of August– earlier than usual. Murray says New Jersey normally produces 64-million pounds of blueberries a year.
Blueberries aren’t the only Jersey specialties that have responded to the weather.
“Jersey fresh sweet corn is already on the market; they’ve been picking it for a week or two and I’m hearing the first tomatoes have started in very light volume. Farmers that put them under plastic and took advantage of this great warm weather we had earlier in the spring are now reaping the benefits of it.”
He says the only disadvantage of the early season: it will be over earlier than usual, too.