Jul 7, 2015Ceremonial ‘First Pick’ marks the start of the Michigan blueberry harvest season
The Michigan blueberry harvest is once again about to launch into full swing and local growers are working long hours to ensure that the blueberries are picked, packed and available to consumers, retailers, restaurants, and food manufacturers, locally as well as throughout the country.
South Haven Mayor Bob Burr helped kick off the season for a ceremonial “First Pick” by visiting with local grower Chris Hodgman of Hodgman Blueberry Plantation, along with Larry Ensfield, president and CEO of MBG Marketing, a grower-owned cooperative and a founding partner of Naturipe Farms, which manages the sales, marketing and distribution of the co-op’s blueberries.
“I am pleased to come to the MBG blueberry fields again to participate in the ceremonial ‘First Pick,’ signifying that our Michigan blueberries are on the way to consumers throughout the country as well as to key export markets around the globe” said Mayor Burr. “The family owned blueberry farms in this part of Michigan have been a key part of our economic and community development for many generations.” Ensfield agreed and added, “These berries will reach markets such as Hong Kong and will demonstrate the demand for our high quality products at a time when export is also a key economic driver for all of us in Michigan.”
Hodgman, a third generation blueberry grower-member of MBG, gave Mayor Burr a tour of his family farm in Grand Junction, Michigan, and discussed this year’s crop with the mayor and Ensfield. Chris shared that while the past two winters have certainly put some stress on Michigan’s fruit crops, including his own, his family has been growing blueberries for 85-years and they always find a way to produce a good crop come July.
Michigan continues to rank amongst the top states in highbush blueberry production with its growers expected to produce nearly 90 million pounds of blueberries in 2015 for fresh and frozen markets. MBG Marketing members include approximately 600 family blueberry farms in Michigan.