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the industry take turns estimating how many pounds of berries were harvested this year. Until all the levy notices are in from the growers, a firm figure won’t be available. Early indications were that total

production will be lower than last year’s, around 160 million pounds, because of some weather challenges and a lower than normal Elliot berry crop. Over the past few years blueberry

processors have purchased at great cost new equipment for freezing blueberries. They are quick-freeze machines capable of processing up to 12,000 pounds of berries each hour that then are stored in freezer plants until needed. “I think what is really important is

this new technology allows processors to freeze a fresh berry very quickly and when thawed it is equal in quality to a fresh blueberry. How fast and how good it is, is understated,” says Etsell. Frozen blueberries are used as an

ingredient in many other berry products such as juices, jams and jellies, pet food and baby food and powders for countries that can’t use frozen berries. However, it takes a lot of money, development and research to get new products in the market. Etsell says the new trade agreement

with Europe, once it is implemented, will eliminate the tariffs on exports of B.C. blueberries into 28 countries.

Highbush centennial celebrated

By Grant Ullyot T

he blueberry industry this year marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of the highbush

blueberry in New Jersey. Elizabeth White lived on the farm

in Wilmington owned by her father, Joseph White. It was a very large cranberry operation called Whitesbog and she noticed there were blueberries growing in the nearby forest. Some were very small and some very large. In 1910, Elizabeth learned of Dr.

Fred Colville, who was doing blueberry research. She and her father convinced Colville to come to Whitesbog to do that research. She then took it upon herself to work with Colville, which eventually resulted in the cultivation of the modern highbush blueberry, catapulting Elizabeth into horticultural fame and earning her the nickname Blueberry Queen. The North American Blueberry


Elizabeth Coleman White, credited with developing the highbush blueberry on her family’s farm in New Jersey.

Council decided to hold its fall meeting at the New Jersey location and celebrate the centennial. Among the 150 people who

attended were Nancy Chong, chair of the B.C. Blueberry Council, and Debbie Etsell, the council’s executive director. “It was amazing to see where the

highly productive highbush blueberry industry started,” said Etsell. “It was a real eye opener to see everything. The event touched everybody’s heart because we were at the birthplace of the highbush blueberry industry.” Today, the U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency owns and operates the farm, maintaining the original buildings except for the packing plant, which was demolished. Elizabeth White’s house, in which she and James Colville did their research, is still standing. There is a lot of memorabilia, including some of White’s notes and many records detailing the work she did. The industry has grown

exponentially over the years in North America and today it is considered to be a major one in both Canada and the United States.

British Columbia Berry Grower • Winter 2016-17 5

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