The results presented in this publication serve as a general guide for evaluating the feasibility of producing blueberries using conventional practices in western Washington as of 2015. This publication is not intended to be a definitive guide to production practices, but it is helpful in estimating the physical and financial requirements of comparable plantings. Specific assumptions were adopted for this study, but these assumptions may not fit every situation since production costs and returns vary across operations, depending on the following factors:
- Capital, labor, and natural resources
- Crop yields
- Cultivar (‘Duke’ was assumed for this study)
- Type and size of machinery, and irrigation system
- Input prices
- Cultural practices
- Conventional blueberry prices
- Size of the farm operation
- Management skills
Cost estimations in the enterprise budget also vary depending on its intended use. To avoid drawing unwarranted conclusions for any particular field or grower operation, readers must closely examine the assumptions made in this guide, and then adjust the costs, returns, or both as appropriate for their own operation.
Blueberry Production in Washington State
As of 2014, Washington State is the third largest producer of conventional highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) in the US in terms of volume of production at 94.6 million lb, following Michigan (99 million lb) and Georgia (98 million lb) (USDA 2015). Conventional blueberry production in Washington State increased from 18 million lb to 94.6 million lb between 2004 and 2014—a 425% growth over 10 years. Of the total utilized production, production for the processing market was twice as large as the production for the fresh market: 63 million lb versus 31.6 million lb in 2014 (USDA 2015).
This publication is designed to enable growers to estimate (1) the costs of equipment, materials, supplies, and labor required to establish and produce conventional highbush blueberries and, (2) the breakeven returns at which conventional blueberry production would be a profitable enterprise.
The primary use of this report is in identifying inputs, costs, and yields considered to be typical of a well-managed conventional blueberry operation. This publication does not necessarily represent any particular operation and is not intended to be a definitive guide to production practices. However, it describes current industry trends and, as such, can be helpful in estimating the physical and financial requirements of comparable plantings.
The data used in this study were gathered from experienced conventional blueberry growers in western Washington and validated by Extension educators and industry representatives. Western Washington blueberry growers typically sell their fruit in the processed market, which influences some of the information presented in this report. Their production practices and input requirements form the baseline assumptions that were used to develop the enterprise budget. Additionally, the data represent what these growers anticipate over a blueberry’s productive life, if no unforeseen failures occur. Given that many factors affect production costs and returns, individual growers can use the Excel Workbook provided to estimate their own costs and returns.