NOVEL PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR SMALL FRUITS
Location: Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory: Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement and Protection
Title: North American berry industries and research areas
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 16, 2009
Publication Date: March 17, 2009
Citation: Takeda, F. 2009. North American berry industries and research areas [abstract]. Defining Needs of Berry Industries. European Sciene Foundation COST 863. p. 8-10.
The farm gate value of small fruit crops in North America has increased significantly in the last 10 years. Much of this increase is due to increased consumption for health benefits. Small fruits are rich in antioxidants which help prevent adverse effects of aging, cancer, and heart diseases. According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistical Service in 2007, there were 120,000 ha in berry crops (blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, currants, red raspberry, and strawberry) valued at $3.23 billion, which was 20 percent of the total farm gate value for noncitrus fruit and nut crops produced in the United States. The four leading berry crops were strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, and red raspberries with a farm gate value of $1.89 billion, $0.54 billion, $0.44 billion, and $0.28 billion, respectively. Currently, 80 percent of the acreage (25,000 ha in 2008) in strawberries are in California and Florida. These two states produce 93 percent of strawberries sold through fresh market channels. The total annual domestic consumption and exports of fresh market strawberries now total nearly 900,000 metric tons. The processed strawberry industry (more than 90 percent in California) has a farm gate value of $0.16 billion. In the U.S., there are 27,350 ha planted in highbush blueberries. Major production states are Michigan (8,500 ha), Georgia (4,300 ha), and New Jersey (3,400 ha). In addition, more than 1,500 ha of blueberries are cultivated in each of the following states: North Carolina, Florida, Oregon, Mississippi, and Washington. Nationally, the blueberry acreage has expanded to 27,500 ha, up 3,000 ha from just 3 years ago. The expansion has occurred rapidly in Florida and Georgia (Southeast), California, and Oregon and Washington (Pacific Northwest). In 2008, cranberry generated $444 million in farm gate value, up $16 million from 2006. There are 17,000 ha of cranberries, and production reached 346,000 MT in 2008. The major producing states are Wisconsin and Massachusetts, with more than 80 percent of domestic production, followed by New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington. Frozen and processed red raspberries are grown in Oregon and Washington (5,000 ha), and generate $0.10 billion in farm gate value. Red raspberries for fresh market are produced on 1,500 ha in California and generate about $200 million annually in farm gate value.
Small fruit production statistics are compiled by the Statistics Canada. Major production areas are in several of the eastern provinces and in British Columbia. Blueberry is the leading small fruit crop in Canada (lowbush type in the Maritime Provinces and highbush type in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia). The blueberry acreage in these provinces should increase steadily. Although the acreage statistics for each province are not available, cranberry acreage has increased by more than 50 percent in the last 7 years. From 2007 to 2008, strawberry and raspberry acreage decreased in all production areas. Official acreage or value statistics for berry production in Mexico are not available. The two major strawberry production areas for strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are in the highland states of Michoacan and Jalisco in central Mexico and in the northern state of Baja California along the Pacific coast. According to data compiled by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service which is available on the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Market News website (www.marketnews.usda.gov/porta/fv), fresh market imports of strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry have increased dramatically since 2003. Strawberry imports from Mexico account for 6 percent of the total consumed in the United States. Most of the increase is from shipments during November through February. The combination of cultivars developed in California and new production techniques have greatly increased the volume of fresh market fruit produced per hectare during the winter months in Mexico.
In the United States, research on small fruit crops breeding/genetics, applied and basic biology, and health/nutrition) are conducted at nine Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratories located across the country and at many land-grant universities. The following states have at least five professorial-rank personnel assigned to small fruit crops (California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, New York, and Ohio). There are also private companies (Ocean Spray, Driscoll Strawberry Associates, Plant Sciences, Inc. and its subsidiary Berry Genetics and California Giant, Inc., Kanaka Peak Research, and Five Aces LLC) conducting small fruit R&D work for cultivar development or market development. ARS conducts research to develop and transfer solutions to agricultural problems of high national priority. ARS scientists conduct research on appropriated funds. In addition, they seek extramural funds along with university investigators from competitive federal grant programs [USDA National Research Initiative ($181 million), Specialty Crop Research Initiative ($47 million) , Small Business Innovation Research (38 million), Regional Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education ($1 billion), and Organic Agriculture Research and Education Initiative ($17 million)] and state and regional commodity groups (Pacific Northwest Small Fruit Research, California Strawberry Commission, North American Blueberry Council, North American Strawberry Growers Association, and North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association, Michigan Blueberry Growers Association).
Small fruit crops along with vegetables, fruits and nuts, and nursery/floriculture crops are defined as specialty crops in the U.S. This has improved extramural funding opportunities for small fruit researchers. Several new federal competitive programs (www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/funding.cfm) are intended to promote collaboration, open communication, the exchange of information, and development of resources that accelerate application of scientific discovery and technology to solving needs of the various specialty crop industries. Proposals for these programs are multistate, multi-institutional, or trans-disciplinary, and include mechanisms to communicate results to producers and the public (food consumers). An example of such a project is: "Advancing blueberry production efficiency by enabling mechanical harvest, improving fruit quality and safety, and managing emerging diseases". This project was funded for $1.7 million and has 11 investigators from 5 states, representing six different disciplines in physical, biological, and social sciences. This project recognized that in the next 5 years, the southeastern United States is projected to become the largest blueberry-producing area in the nation. Growth in acreage and production has been especially impressive for the early-maturing southern highbush blueberries, which ripen during a favorable market window, provide an important source of income for small and medium-sized farms and a lifeline for the surrounding rural communities. However, in the face of increasing domestic supply and demand, rapidly strengthening international competition, increased pressure on producer prices, and looming shortages in labor, blueberry growers will have to elevate their production efficiency considerably to remain profitable and sustainable. The long-term goal of the blueberry production project is to enable an unprecedented leap in efficiency through a comprehensive, interdisciplinary research and extension effort. Another small fruit project titled, "Generating genomic tools for blueberry improvement", was funded for $1.0 million. The goal of this project is to develop and make available genomic tools for the improvement of blueberry. Three ARS locations and three university locations (University of Maine, Michigan State University, and Towson University in Maryland) are involved. The team's objectives are deeper sequ