Wanting to start a blueberry farm

misha35(east texas)July 2, 2007

Does anyone have any experience with blueberries? There are several farms about 35 miles from here and I would love to start one in my area. I love to garden and this would be a way to hopefully make my love of gardening into a paying job. I realize that it would take the plants about 4 years to produce well. Could I eventually make money at this? I live in East Texas. Thanks!!

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There is little doubt that you picked the right crop to invest in for a profitable return. You can get a lot of good tips in the fruit forum to help you get started. I've been told that this is also one of the easiest crops to start as an organically grown crop. I think that with a little prior planning you can make it work.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 11:30AM
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There are some great Blueberry farms here in our state. We all love those blue beauties!
My next door neighbor planted with the intention of market in our area, but like many here - found there was no available and steady labor for picking - and had to let his work go.
I see that you are in Texas, and probably wouldn't have that sort of trouble being near immigrant farm labor. Another guy, in my rural entrepreneurship group just mentioned procuring machinery for such.
Good luck in your endeavor!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2007 at 12:49PM
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We bought 10 acres of a property that had been divided from a larger estate which contained around 50 blueberry plants. I got about 30 of them in my cut. I'm not sure when they were planted originally, but they had not been taken care of too well in recent years so it required cutting out mulberry trees that were trying to grow up through the middle of bushes, etc.
I went online and got info on blueberry culture, pruning etc. and we have been enjoying blueberries every year. I have been able to sell them at market for $3 /lb.
We have several blueberry farms about 20 mins to the North of us that have PYO operations and that is perhaps my biggest competition. I am a one-woman operation and do everything myself - all the gardening, and market set up and selling. I have a friend who likes to come and help me pick blueberries and still insists on paying me market price for them even tho' I try to insist a trade for her labor. Its nice to have a little company when it comes to picking time.

You could think about a PYO operation [pick your own] do your research on that too - you have to have insurance for people to come onto your property etc, but that could save you from having to do all the harvesting yourself.

When I went down this spring to prune, there was a LOT of dead stuff on my bushes this year. Even tho' the water table is higher down there we had drought conditions last year that made our pond lower than its ever been in the 4 years we've lived here. I figured that must have been what affected my blueberries too. I pruned them back the hardest I'd ever pruned and wondered if that would affect their yield this year but come May they were loaded with blooms so it looks like I will get a good crop this year. Last year a late frost affected a lot of the farms up north but mine were fine.

My advice to you in starting a blueberry farm would be to do research in growing blueberries, find varieties that will do well in your area, plant early, mid season and late varieties to extend your harvest, give them plenty of space in between for air circulation and in case you have to mow around them like I do. If you are planning to be a large commercial production, some varieties lend themselves better to machine harvest than others, ripening pretty much the same time so that could be important to know as well.
Blueberries like acid soil. I try to fertilize them in the spring with a fertilizer for acid loving plants.
I am not a commercial grower -just a market gardener - but I have found blueberries to be fairly easy care. They can get diseases and I've seen some mummyberry on mine but I've just kept pruning off the bad stuff and it hasn't really affected overall harvests that much. Here in my zone we usually can pick the entire month of July so altho' I have no idea what varieties were planted here, there is evidently more than one.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 2:15PM
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I have a property of 10 acres in Michigan and know its an ideal place for blueberry.but how much profit am I looking to make from each acre?How much does a pound goes for?Need some info on this.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2011 at 9:41PM
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10 acres is a huge amount of space to allocate to a single crop. you'd almost certainly want to look into bulk prices in your area. Also,go scope out some of your local markets and see what kind of prices other people are charging in your area. then its just the question: do you want to make the quick wholesale dollars, or take your time with full retail price.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 5:39AM
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Depending upon your location in MI, there are several blueberry plantations of many more acres than just 10. You will have lots of competition in those areas. The last that I paid at one of the plantations was $1.30/lb, but that was 3 years ago. Now that plantations doesn't wholesale to the public, only retail. Last I noticed was $10/5 lb. Don't forget you will need the boxes or other supplies.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 7:38AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

Hey Nicholas...great idea. I'm a little guy also. Consider going organic or advertise as "organically grown" to distinguish yourself from the rest. Where is your general location?
My plants are on their 3rd year and look great. I have
Duke, Draper, Bluejay, and am putting in BlueCrop and lots of Elliot.
Start small, build up your clientele, every couple years expand a little(or hopefully more).
I have been using spoiled round hay bales to smother out the weeds/nutrients/moisture control. Now am going over that with composted wood chips after a detailed weeding immediately around the plant to smother weeds etc.
Getting enough mulch is my #1 challenge. But then, I dont want to pay much...
Long term fertilization regimen remains a challenge as I haven't researched the cost comparisons of my organic options. I had used a fresh chicken poop/kelp tea when my numbers were small, but with 300-600 plants, I'd have to buy tysons!
Anyway, I did a fish emulsion (5-1-1) with mollases dilution for their immediate needs.
Or I could get some slow release osmochem and not worry about it, Na!
Check out MSU's sites, contact your local extension, space your varieties. Consider planting other fruits to broaden your customer base and make most effecient use of your space. Like pears on the north side, for example. Know what your doing though before deciding on anything.
Good Luck,

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 7:46AM
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If you put pears in, you won't have alot of old-time competition. Alot of the older pear trees have been bull-dozed, just when I want to find them.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 8:09AM
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How well do blackberries sell in Michigan? I have 2 acres of them and I get picked out every year down here in central Alabama. I would think you could sell them for a lot more, especially at FMs, than what you can get for blueberries up there. However, I will say they require a little more work than blueberry plants. Just a thought ...

Hope this helps,

Ken Barber
Millbrook AL

    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 10:40AM
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I wish I had 10 acres of land! I'd be thrilled to have an acre. But I would diversify, at least to a point. Maybe only fruit - apple, peach, apricot, cherry, etc. trees; Strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, grapes. Miracle fruit.

I would also look into a dehydrator. Whatever fruit you harvest and don't sell, dehydrate. Later, mix it with other fruits and make a trail mix. You can even pick up stuff like bananas on sale throughout the year at a supermarket.

That's one of the reasons (that is, if it ever dries up!) I'm planting way more hot peppers than I could ever sell. Dehydrate, then mill them and make a hot pepper blend. At $3-5 per ounce, it should be a huge profit margin.

Each person has their own way but I would rather work consistently during most of the year instead of being crushed for a few weeks.

Food for thought.


    Bookmark   May 2, 2011 at 5:48PM
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