North Carolina Blueberries -
A little bit of history...
North Carolina growers became a factor in blueberry production over 60 years ago, starting with 100 acres of the bearing bushes. Today that production has grown to over 2900 harvestable acres from the coast to the mountains.
Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium Corymbosum L.) account for 95% of commercial acreage. Rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium Ashei) make up the balance of acreage.
Elizabeth "Swift" Pippin, manager of the Carolina blueberry cooperative from 1941 until 1970, recalls the story of the blueberry in the region beginning in 1936 when Harold Huntington of Cooperstown, New York bought 1,000 acres between Atkinson and Ivanhoe, an area some 40 miles from Wilmington, in the southeastern corner of the state. Huntington paid one dollar an acre for the tract. "He got it so cheap because it was considered worthless swamp," Mrs. Pippin says. "Federal Land Bank would not lend money on this boggy soil as it wasn't considered fertile.*" Huntington planted blueberry bushes brought from New Jersey in the low land area.
A second tract was purchased by Gale Harrison from New Jersey and he paid $7 an acre. Along with local farmers, these newcomers set berries and soon a business was born. They affiliated with a distributor in New Jersey and the crop was shipped by railroad from Atkinson.
Mrs. Pippin says New Jersey had long been the blueberry capital, but the expansion to North Carolina brought in an early berry crop in June to supplement what New Jersey produced in August.
*Quoted from Tidewater, June 1984