Sunny start to summer delivering bumper crop of blueberries
Sunny start to NZ summer delivering bumper crop of blueberries
Growers say weather has created the sweetest fruit in recent years
An early, sunny start to summer is promising to deliver one of New Zealand’s best and maybe biggest blueberry crops in several years.
Blueberries are one of Kiwis’ favourite summer fruits, with supermarket sales surging upwards by a massive 36.3% from May 2012 to May 2013. New Zealand blueberries are increasingly in demand overseas, too, with exports growing from 850,000 kgs in 2012 to over 1,000,000 kgs in 2013.
NIWA is forecasting above average temperatures through until the end of December, and industry experts predict this will help create even more demand for blueberries.
“The sun heats the soil, which makes the plant ripen and helps increase the fruit yield,” explains Dan Peach, Chairperson of Blueberries NZ. “At the same time, the warmer weather we’ve been enjoying turns the acid into sugar and creates an even sweeter flavour. Across the country, growers are reporting that their harvests are amongst the biggest and best they can remember.”
1,800 tonnes of blueberries were grown in New Zealand last year, and the market is now worth around 28 million – 10 million in domestic sales and 18 million in exports. The industry employs more than 2,000 people, taking into account seasonal work.
Peach attributes blueberries’ fast-growing popularity to the fruit’s taste, versatility and long season, with fresh New Zealand blueberries now available from October right through until June.
And then there are this superfood’s extraordinary health benefits. Scientific studies have shown that just three heaped tablespoons of blueberries, three times a week, can help boost brainpower, improve skin, lessen the risk of heart attacks, aid muscle recovery after exercise, fight cancer, and even burn fat while sleeping.