The results presented in this publication serve as a general guide for evaluating the feasibility of producing organic blueberries in eastern 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 farm 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, irrigation, and frost control systems
- Input prices
- Cultural practices
- Organic blueberry prices
- Size of the farm operation
- Management skills
Cost estimations in the enterprise budget also vary depending on their 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.
Organic Blueberry Production in Washington State
The total certified organic highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) acreage in Washington State increased from 599 acres in 2009 to 1,540 acres in 2014—a 157% increase over the six-year period (Brady et al. 2015; DeVetter et al. 2015). Organic blueberry production increased from 3 million pounds to 18.5 million pounds between 2009 and 2013 (DeVetter et al., 2015). The share of organic blueberries in the total volume of blueberries produced in the state was 23% in 2013 (DeVetter et al. 2015). In 2014, retail price premiums for fresh organic blueberries in Washington ranged from 21% to 50% over the price of non-organic blueberries depending on the package size, and shipping point premiums were 35% higher than those of non-organic blueberries (Cook et al. 2015).
Organic blueberry production is located in Skagit, Whatcom, and Snohomish Counties in western Washington, and in
This publication is designed to enable growers to estimate: (1) the costs of equipment, materials, supplies, and labor required for establishing and producing organic blueberries for the fresh and processing markets and (2) the breakeven returns at which organic blueberry production would be a profitable enterprise.
The primary use of this report is to identify inputs, costs, and yields considered to be typical of a well-managed organic 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 organic blueberry growers in eastern Washington, validated by WSU Extension educators and industry representatives. 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.