This circular covers basic postharvest harvesting, handling and cold storage principles for fresh-market blueberries to ensure the highest possible shelf-life and quality while minimizing postharvest losses. Blueberries are harvested in Georgia from late April to late June. Southern highbush varieties are harvested early in the season while rabbiteyes ripen toward the end of the season. It is important to remember that berry quality is linked to both price and consumer acceptance, so providing consumers with good-quality fruit is key to the success of your operation. Machine harvesting is possible, especially for varieties that are resistant to bruising; hand-harvesting costs are a major expense in blueberry operations. Even though machine harvesters require a significant amount of capital, the investment is cost-effective in the long run for most producers. It is important to note that not all blueberry varieties are suitable for machine harvest. In Georgia, most rabbiteye varieties are machine-harvested, especially for the processed market. Blueberries are a highly perishable commodity, and their shelf life often is limited by high rates of respiration, softening, water loss, loss of flavor, mechanical damage, and decay. Therefore, reducing the temperature of the fruit as soon as it is harvested is crucial.
Status and Revision History
Published on Jun 16, 2023