Blueberry growers celebrate booming industry
Following a record harvest in 2013, blueberry growers on P.E.I. are looking ahead to even more success in the years ahead.
"It was probably one of the most-conducive growing seasons I've had the experience to harvest a crop out of," said farmer John Handrahan.
Handrahan's family has been growing blueberries for generations, but those who came before him never saw yields like this. He said he's heard of growers getting more than 3,000 kilograms of berries per acre. David MacNearney of the P.E.I. Wild Blueberry Growers Association said those yields are possible because of modern growing methods.
"The yields that we're seeing now is a result of initiatives taken 10 or 15 years ago that are just starting to pay off," said MacNearney.
"It's just kind of made all of us a little more professional."
It is not just the local growers who are feeling optimistic about P.E.I. blueberries. Wyman's, a major blueberry processor with its head office in Maine, is in the midst of a large expansion of its P.E.I. factory.
"They're a large company, they look at the numbers," said Handrahan.
"Obviously they think there's a reason to put a plant here and process those berries, so we've got to feel there's a place for us."
Growers are optimistic about the harvest this year despite the nasty winter. It was cold, but there was also good snow cover, which should keep the plants healthy and producing, even with the late spring.