Berry acreage on the rise

Latest agricultural census shows 6.7 per cent increase over five years, with blues and crans leading the way.

By Judie Steeves A

ccording to figures released earlier this year from the 2016 Canadian Agricultural Census,

blueberries and cranberries led total acreage in the fruits, berries and nuts sector to a 6.7 per cent increase over the last census in 2011, mainly in B.C., Quebec and Atlantic Canada. Total acreage rose to 332,812 acres

in 2016. More than half of that is in blueberries, which are grown in 3,922 operations across Canada. Across the country, acres in blueberries have consistently increased over the past several censuses, currently at 196,026 acres, compared to 175,000 in the last census, up 12 per cent.

Cranberries are at 18,000 acres in

280 operations, compared to 15,200 in 2011, while strawberries have declined to 10,000 acres in 2,144 operations from 11,000 in 2011 and raspberries are down to 5,600 acres in 2,391 operations, from 7,400 in 2011. The increase in blueberry area was

largely driven by growing international demand, according to Statistics Canada. This country exported 94.8 million kilograms of frozen blueberries in 2016, up 33.7 per cent from 2011. Exports of fresh blueberries rose 84.4 per cent to 37.1 million kilograms. The U.S. is Canada’s top destination

for both fresh and frozen blueberries, with an increase of 86 per cent from 2011. The U.S. accounted for 71 per cent of total blueberry exports in 2016, up from 55.3 per cent in 2011. Germany and Japan are in second and third place, accounting for a combined total of 13.4 per cent in 2016. Exports of fresh cranberries also increased, up 77.6 per cent from 2011, to 63.5 million kilograms in 2016, according to Statistics Canada. Cranberries maintained the fourth-

largest fruits, berries and nuts area in Canada in 2016, increasing 19.4 per cent. Quebec continued to account for the largest cranberry area with 54.5 per cent of Canada’s total. Like blueberries, cranberries can be mechanically harvested making them more appealing than other berries that require hand harvesting, reports StatsCan. It reported that operations growing

fruits, berries and nuts have also benefited from the use of farm stands and farmers’ markets to sell products directly to consumers. Of farms deriving the majority of gross farm receipts from fruits, berries and nuts, 37.8 per cent reported selling directly to consumers. Similar to vegetable operations, the direct-to-consumer method most reported was the use of on-farm sales, such as farm stands, kiosks and u-pick, followed by the use of farmers’ markets. By sales, the fruit and tree nut sector

of horticulture in B.C. generated $478.3 million in 2016, compared to Nova Scotia at $96.1 million, New Brunswick at $56.6 million and Prince Edward Island at $15.9 million.

British Columbia Berry Grower • Fall-Winter 2017 19

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