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Pleasantdale’s John Galaida looking forward to Jersey blues

HAMMONTON, NJ — New Jersey blueberries should begin “a few days” later than historical norms, and volume should be “better than average,” according to John Galaida, general manager of Pleasantdale Farms, here.

“I’m thinking of June 19 that we would start, and volume would begin four to five days later,” Galaida told The Produce News Wednesday morning, May 28, at his office here in the southern part of New Jersey. “That would be a few days later” than an average start to the season.

Asked what kind of impact the long and cold winter of 2013-14 had on the upcoming New Jersey blueberry crop, Galaida replied, “The winter was pretty harsh for this area. Snowfall and temperatures were something we hadn’t seen in a very long time. But the blueberries seem to have come through the winter fairly well.”

Delving further, the veteran blueberry grower added, “Berry size looks good.”

As to overall crop volume in the state, “It’s hard to judge at this time, but I believe it’s going to be a good crop,” he said. “It won’t be a record-setting crop, but it should be a better-than-average crop.”

Galaida has been in the blueberry industry for more than 35 years and has been general manager at Pleasantdale Farms since it was acquired by Frank Donio Inc. in 2002.

Hammonton-based Frank Donio Inc., a grower, shipper and distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables, sources blueberries from all over the world, including New Jersey.

Pleasantdale Farms is one of the main contributors to Donio’s Jersey blueberry program.

Pleasantdale Farms has a total of about 400 acres of blueberries: 300 acres here in Hammonton, which it calls the home farm, and about 100 acres a few miles away in Mullica Township, which it calls the Nesco Farm.

Pleasantdale Farms will be harvesting from about 370 acres this season, as the company “has pulled out about 30 acres of older plants” and is replacing them with newer ones, said Galaida.

“About 30 acres of Dukes were pulled and are being replaced by 30 acres of new varieties,” he said, noting that replacing older varieties with newer, more vibrant ones is a pretty common practice.