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Additional blueberry acreage at Consalo Family Farms

With a mild winter and good pollination as a foundation, Consalo Family Farms is anticipating New Jersey blueberries to be marked by strong volume and good quality, according to Joe Rosa, vice president of the company, based in Vineland, NJ.

“So far the weather’s been very good for us,” Rosa told The Produce News Wednesday, May 22. “These last couple of weeks, it’s been very good. Two to three weeks ago it was rainy, but it didn’t hurt the crop. Pollination this year has been very good. Better than last year.”

“The crop is expected to be very good,” he added.

IMG 7261AJ Consalo, Chelsea Consalo, Skip Consalo and Jeff DiMatteo.Blueberries — from all sources — are the largest volume commodity at Consalo Family Farms, and going forward, the company should have even more berries than ever before.

“We have new production coming in,” said Rosa. “We continue to add acreage on an annual basis. Consalo Family Farms currently has 1,200 acres of blueberries in production in New Jersey.”

As to the timing of the upcoming Jersey crop, Rosa said, “Well, our first estimate when we were walking the fields [a while back] was going to be around June 17, but now we’re thinking about June 10. That’s what we’re telling everybody.”

And once those berries begin, Rosa is anticipating both good volume and good quality. “The plants are loaded. There’s a lot of fruit because of the good pollinations we had this year,” he stated. “If we don’t get rain and the weather stays the way it is, quality should be very good. I think this is going to be one of our better years for quality.”

That should be good news for retailers and other buyers, who are looking forward to the start of the New Jersey season, as usual. “They’re all asking, ‘When are you going to get started?’ We’re seeing a lot of interest. We have great support from our U.S. customers and into Canada,” he said.

On the labor situation, Rosa said, “The main concern for everybody in New Jersey is labor. It’s important to get the berries off, and hand-picking is the best way.”

But the company tries to stay in front of the situation as much as possible.

“Our team is set,” declared Rosa. “We have plenty of pickers who we house here on the farm. And we have the same crews that come back year after year. So they know our farms and they know how we work and they know our quality. We have a good team here at Consalo Family Farms.”