The Pacific Northwest is enduring a record-breaking heat wave, with the full impact still being assessed. For the blueberry industry in particular, the heat wave came at a critical time, as growers in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia enter peak blueberry season.
While the extent of this events’ damage will not be understood for a while, it is clear from this podcast’s local grower testimony that the blueberry industry in this region is working carefully through this unprecedented heat to mitigate the effects to the extent possible:
“We want to make sure our buyers understand we are going to have good quality fruit, though there might be a hiccup here for a week or two while we work around the damaged fruit and some of the green fruit ripens up.” – Doug Krahmer, Oregon
“There’s different levels of effect from the heat depending on variety, plant size, and other factors, so there’s a lot of variability. But the affected fruit should dry out and fall off, and what’s left should be good quality.” – Jason Smith, British Columbia
“I think there’s a lot of uncertainty still out there, but right now I think people are thinking the volume is still out there, it may be a direction of where it goes between fresh and frozen.” – Bryan Sakuma, Washington
“What was uppermost in our minds was to keep our employees safe first, and then do the best we could for our crop after that.” – Doug Krahmer, Oregon
This special edition of The Business of Blueberries brings growers from areas most affected by the heat wave who came together in the immediate aftermath to provide a look at what’s happening on the ground.
Doug Krahmer of Oregon, Bryan Sakuma of Washington and Jason Smith of British Columbia join U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and North American Blueberry Council President Kasey Cronquist for a conversation about this crisis, what the Pacific Northwest blueberry community has done to mitigate the heat and its impact, and an early outlook for what the future weeks might bring.