Blueberry harvest spread
SHORTAGES of blueberry pickers on the Coffs Coast this year have mainly been caused by weather stress which has shortened the hours available for picking, coupled with the expansion of smaller acreages beyond the labour resources of farming families.
One grower said yesterday they were planning for future expansion of the popular crop by planting new varieties to spread the picking season more widely and by working to encourage more Indian students and workers to come to the region.
Peter McPherson, the general manager of the region’s dominant grower, Corindi’s Berry Exchange, said with 2000 people on their books they have had no problem in finding pickers but had noticed a cultural shift, with more Bhutanese and other Asian migrants joining Sikh and African pickers among the blueberries.
Jaz Benning, from Benning’s Blueberries at Woolgoolga, said Indian students in the area had helped out a lot this year.
“We are trying to get away from one big crop,” he said.
With current varieties harvested from October to February, they are planting new varieties to be picked from May to December.