UK-grown blueberries to buck the downturn and prosper

Rising transport costs and currency hype are working in favour of one minor crop in the UK, according to the country's leading wholesale supplier of stock.

The economic downturn and "dreadful summer" have failed to halt the rising consumption of blueberries in the UK - and with the total UK crop estimated at 400 acres (162ha) accounting for just one per cent of UK consumption, Spalding-based soft-fruit plant propagator Hargreaves Plants believes now is the time for growers to move into the market.

Commercial director Rupert Hargreaves said: "Growers need confidence to invest and blueberry consumption is rising. Knowing how to grow is vital and information on the best varieties and growing techniques is much better understood. Costly transport miles and currency hype are working in favour of home growing."

The crop needs an acid soil but Hargreaves is confident that knowledge is now available in this country to aid new and existing growers.

Hargreaves offers the latest high-taste, virus-tested varieties through exclusive UK distribution rights with the world's largest blueberry stock producer, FallCreek Nursery, Oregon, US.

Hargreaves said the company has learned much about managing growing media. He said: "Quite a few areas of the UK have the right soils naturally. Huge areas like Thetford forest in Norfolk and other peat/woodland areas could work. Many farmers in the region already grow crops needing detailed care and they have an advantage of already having cold stores, packing and, more importantly, labour."


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