Pine bark shortage an issue for blueberry growers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Florida's blueberry growers say this blossoming crop is threatened by a shrinking supply of a key ingredient: pine bark.

A shortage of the bark has left some scrambling to find a supplier with enough to sell.

Limestone in some parts of Florida leave the soil too alkaline for blueberries, so growers have relied on layers of pine bark to lower the pH. But the reasons for the shortage of pine bark, and the question of whether there is a shortage, differ among growers and suppliers.

Some cite the unusually rainy weather this year or the higher demand caused by an increasing number of growers.

The Gainesville Sun reports that Alachua County is the leading county in blueberry acreage in Florida, followed by Polk and Hillsborough counties.

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