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24 October, 2020

Blueberries come to an end.

Blueberries will soon be off the menu as the season comes to an end.

By Phil Brandel

Blueberries will soon be off the menu as the season comes to an end.

Atherton Blueberry farmer Martin Inderbitzin’s grandparents started farming dairy when they arrived on the Tablelands in the 1970s before moving into macadamias, avocadoes, blueberries and custard apples

This year has had its challenges but Mr Inderbitzin said he was still feeling optimistic. “Every year we get a little bit better, we have only been growing blueberries for six years and as our crop knowledge improves every year, the crop gets better,” he said.

“This year we will have sent a bit over 200 tonnes to the market.

“Prices haven’t changed much, they always start high at the beginning of the season, whereas now they are as low as they will go, it’s pretty marginal at this stage.”

Mr Inderbitzin said they started picking in early March just as COVID hit.

“For the past 6 weeks finding people has been a challenge but we were very happy to have more locals on the farm this year,” he said.

“Anyone who applied we gave them a job; if you dropped by and said you’re looking for a job I gave them a go.”

Now that blueberries are coming to an end Mr Inderbitzin said looking forward they will probably have to use more pacific islanders for picking next year.

“We have a great team of locals already working here, but this year we had more workers from Vanuatu and only a few backpackers,” he said.

“We are about to start pruning trees in the hope of harvesting around March.

“I think next year staffing could be a problem so we are keen for any locals to come and have a chat if they are looking for work.”

As for a La Nina being declared Mr Martin said its actually good news. “Anything that puts water into a dam and aquifers is a good thing, we don’t need the Cyclones but we will take the rain.”


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