About 125 Island producers manage approximately 13,000 acres of wild blueberries and harvested about 18.6 million lbs of wild blueberries in 2020.
Wild Blueberries are a berry fruit that are indigenous to Prince Edward Island, growing wild in some places but also cultivated from cleared forest land or marginal crop land. PEI is one of just a handful of regions in all of North America where low bush wild blueberries grow, along with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Northern Quebec, Northern Ontario and Maine. Prince Edward Island is the ideal location for wild blueberries to grow because of the level fields and minimal rocks.
Wild blueberries have a higher concentration of antioxidants like anthocyanin compared to cultivated blueberries. The reason why PEI’s wild blueberries are very sweet and tart is because they produce more antioxidants to protect themselves against the cold island winters; so the colder the climate, the more antioxidants the berries will have.
Wild Blueberry crops are not planted each year but they develop from native existing stands that bloom annually. Wild blueberry crops are harvested biannually and mowed in a year of non-production. Producers then manage these blueberry fields for pests and diseases and ensure the presence of bees and insects to pollinate the plants. Then between mid-August and the first of September, the wild blueberry crop can be harvested. There are two methods that can be used to harvest wild blueberries, either a hand harvester using a metal rake or a machine harvester. The majority of the Island’s wild blueberry crop (99%) is shipped to processors, while the other 1% of the crop is sold locally. Some wild blueberry processors include: Jasper Wyman and Son Inc.; Bragg Lumber Company; East Coast Wild Blueberry Ltd. or Oxford Frozen Foods.
For more information on Wild Blueberries, check out the island industry association: PEI Wild Blueberry Growers Association