Blueberry culture in Turkey, today and in the future

H. Celik
In Turkey, four Vaccinium species grow wild and have not been improved through breeding for commercial growing. The introduction of blueberry plants into Turkey began in 1999 but commercial blueberry culture made slow progress. Today, blueberry culture and fruit consumption increased rapidly and by 2014, blueberries were planted on about 200 ha and fruit production had increased to 1000 t. Additionally, some fresh and frozen blueberry fruit are imported from foreign countries to meet the demands of the Turkish consumers who are preferring blueberry for the health and nutraceutical benefits. About 30 cultivars of northern highbush blueberries have been studied for adaptation in Turkey. Recently more than five cultivars of southern highbush and several rabbiteyes are trying to test. Based on soil conditions and air temperature, blueberry growing regions may be divided into two zones in Turkey. Northern highbush are grown in the Black Sea Region (Artvin, Rize, Trabzon, Ordu, Giresun, Samsun, Sinop, Zonguldak) and Marmara Region (Istanbul, Bursa, Yalova and Kırklareli). These areas include both lower altitudes beginning from eastern part of Black Sea and the highland areas of the western part of the same region that are relatively cool and rainy during the growing season (April to October). Southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberries are being grown in the southern part of Turkey and western part of Black Sea Region which is warmer during the winter. Twenty-one provinces (Ordu, Giresun, Trabzon, Rize, Artvin, Gümüshane, Bartın, Bolu, Düzce, Samsun, Sinop, Zonguldak, Karabük, Kastamonu, Kocaeli, Sakarya, Bursa, Çanakkale, İstanbul, Kırklareli and Yalova) are mainly under study for their satisfied soil and climatic conditions for blueberries. Turkish consumers prefer fresh, large and sweet blueberry fruit. It is easy to produce high quality fruit, because of average rain at the beginning of growing season and balanced during the whole season and good, sandy loam and loamy clay soils with proper pH range. In Turkey, adaptation studies of southern highbush and rabbiteye blueberry cultivars, mulching and mineral nutrition, postharvest and storage and cultural studies with integrated pest management, pruning and training research will have to be established for the future. In the next years, the blueberry growing area is expected to expand to 2,000 ha, and production volume will be increased to 6,000-8,000 t. Total blueberry fruit production in the country is estimated to increase to 30,000 t.
Celik, H. (2017). Blueberry culture in Turkey, today and in the future. Acta Hortic. 1180, 85-92
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1180.12
Vaccinium, climate, area, production, consumption, price, research, Anatolia

Acta Horticulturae