Oregon Agriculture Is a Fruitful Endeavor

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Oregon Berries
Oregon is at or near the top in several categories of non-citrus fruits and nuts.
ODA PHOTO

From berries to cherries to pears, Oregon continues to be a leader in the production of many types fruits. This summer and fall is a great time for Oregonians to enjoy local, fresh fruits and nuts. But the terrific taste of these important agricultural crops can be savored year around by consumers across the US and around the world.

Newly released statistics show Oregon at or near the top in several categories of non-citrus fruits and nuts. The state’s climate and fertile soils help skilled growers produce a bounty of high-quality products that have garnered a great reputation far and wide.

“We produce a variety of high quality fruits and nuts that are valued in our local markets, national markets, and in export markets around the world,” says Lindsay Eng, director of Market Access and Certification for the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Oregon is in the thick of the berry season, with the bulk of the state’s strawberries already harvested. The harvest of blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are well underway. Spring weather generally moved up the calendar for these crops by about two weeks. The quality of this year’s berries is reportedly very good.

“People who live in Oregon know and appreciate the opportunity to obtain berries of very high quality, whether it’s a farmers’ market, local farm stand, or the neighborhood grocery store,” says Gary Roth, ODA’s Industry Development Director. “Our berries are equally well received overseas, both in fresh and processed forms.”

The sixth annual Oregon Berry Festival will be held this weekend at the Ecotrust Event Space in Portland. There will be a two-day all-berry marketplace, cooking demonstrations, tastings, and a blackberry pie contest, among other activities. More information is available online.

Last year, Oregon produced more than 51 million pounds of blackberries with a value of $38 million. The production figure is up 13 percent from 2014, but the value is down 31 percent as the price per pound dropped considerably last year. Notably, about 95 percent of Oregon’s commercial blackberries went into processing with only 5 percent sold in the fresh market. Marionberry production bounced back in 2015 to 22.4 million pounds, a 31 percent jump from the previous year. At 2.4 million pounds, boysenberry production in Oregon dropped slightly last year and the value fell to $2.7 million.

California and Washington continue to lead the nation in raspberry production, but Oregon maintains its position in third place with 9.4 million pounds valued at $13.8 million. Production was up 9 percent in 2015.

There has been very little change in Oregon strawberry production or value. Once a much larger industry in the state, Oregon strawberries are now valued at $13.2 million, which is still good for third in the country.

Blueberries remain a bright spot in Oregon agriculture, with last year’s production increasing to 100 million pounds with a value of $104 million. That production has moved Oregon up the national rankings from fourth to second, slightly behind neighboring Washington.