What Peaches? In Georgia, Blueberries Now Rule
Growers made $94M off blueberries, $30M off peaches in 2012
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 23, 2013 12:58 PM CDT
In this Wednesday, July 17, 2013 photo, ripe blueberries pile up inside a bucket in the pick-your-own field at Foxbrier Farm, in Chattahoochee Hill Country, Ga. While Georgia is officially known as the...   (Jaime Henry-White)

(Newser) – There are few things as quintessentially Deep South as a Georgia peach, whose image appears on state license plates, "Welcome to Georgia" billboards, and road signs. There's just one problem: Blueberries are Georgia's most lucrative fruit crop, by far. In a little-noticed development, the value of blueberry production in Georgia beat the peach crop in 2005—and the gap has grown even bigger since then, according to USDA surveys. Blueberries generated an estimated $94 million for Georgia growers in 2012, to peaches' nearly $30 million. And Georgia isn't even the biggest US peach producer: It's regularly beat by California and neighboring South Carolina.

The rise of the blueberry was driven by a combination of supply-and-demand economics coupled with a good growing environment (blueberry-killing frosts are rare, for instance). Major blueberry producers, particularly in Michigan, wanted to get berries on supermarket shelves earlier in the year. They signed deals with growers in Georgia since the state starts harvesting its berries in April, ahead of Florida and California. Their move came as the Peach State was looking for replacements for traditional Southern crops such as tobacco and timber. "It's surprising around the country how many people don't realize Georgia grows blueberries," says a blueberry farmer. Still, "I don't foresee Georgia changing to the blueberry state."

View 4 more images

Copyright 2016 Newser, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
What Peaches? In Georgia, Blueberries Now Rule is...
7%
50%
4%
35%
2%
2%
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Comments
Showing 3 of 8 comments
OrneryPup
Jul 23, 2013 11:57 PM CDT
Blueberry = Huckleberry
JackNelsonSteward
Jul 23, 2013 6:29 PM CDT
"Georgia Blueberry" "Blueberrybush Street." Naahhh ... not gonna happen.
WhateverYouSay
Jul 23, 2013 1:50 PM CDT
They're healthy, tasty and picked and shipped ripe, unlike most commercially produced peaches. I had some blues on my cereal this morning. Last peach I bought had to be tossed because it never really ripened enough to eat.