Last month, a late freeze wiped out as much as 80% of Georgia's blueberry crop. According to Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black (emphasis added):
We saw blueberry fields that had the potential to be the biggest and best crop of Georgia's production history that you would now not be able to find enough blueberries that survived the cold to make one pie.
And in South Carolina, the Department of Agriculture reports that 85% of the state's peach crop is gone.
Total losses could approach $1 billion between the two states...
On the other hand, Florida's blueberries are doing great...
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the season was perfect... and early... Experts project a harvest of 20 million pounds of blueberries this year.
And global berries are also on the upswing:
Ordinarily, Argentina is the first of the season in November, then from December to February berries come from Chile. Florida usually starts in mid-March and runs through June 1, and after that it moves to Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, and the Pacific Northwest where the last berries are picked in late September. But in the past few years, new planting in Mexico has worried Florida growers.
Plus, the Maine harvest of "wild blueberries" – low bush berries that are smaller, with a bolder flavor and higher levels of antioxidants – is looking strong.
In fact, Maine blueberry farmers are worried about low prices. The Bangor Daily News recently wrote...
Ask a Maine wild blueberry grower how business is these days, and you'll get a common response.
"Terrible. Just horrible," William Rudelitch said recently in Ellsworth, where he was attending one of several meetings organized by the Maine Cooperative Extension to discuss strategies for staying in business.
Today, the prices paid to growers like Rudelitch have slid to $0.25-$0.30... half the cost of production... and down from more than $1 about a decade ago.
So what should you make of the possibility of a blueberry price spike?
I'm not too worried, myself. More and more blueberries are getting planted around the world as folks start to wake up to what I've been saying for years – blueberries are one of the healthiest "superfoods" out there.
They're so good for you that I can imagine getting a script from my doctor to fill a pint of "blues." That would be one of the tastiest – and safest – prescriptions available.
To make sure that you've got plenty of blues this summer, no matter what prices do, I like to stock up any time I see a sale. The trouble is making myself freeze them, instead of eating them within days.
I remember last year, when I was down in North Carolina in a Harris Teeter...
As I was walking out the door, there were baskets from a farm on the west side of town. They were asking for about $10 for the whole basket... We weighed it and compared it to the price to the normal pints. This was four-and-a-half-pints worth for $10!
They were cheap and so good that we bought three baskets... and ate $30 worth of blueberries within a day and a half.
Every summer, I make sure to buy two-for-one blues by the boatload. Just remember, don't wash the berries until right before eating them or the skins get soft and moldy.
And don't be afraid to freeze your blues. Multiple studies have shown that frozen blueberries actually have higher antioxidant levels. The freezing process forms crystals in the berries that make the antioxidants easier to break down when we consume them... this is called "bioavailability."
I put blueberries on everything... chocolate ice cream, yogurt, and crushed into waffle batter. And frozen blueberries make great additions to smoothies.
What We're Reading...
- The Associated Press broke the bad news on blueberries and peaches.
- Something different: Why some people are choosing to eat at hospitals.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
April 11, 2017