Since 2019, FD Berries in Jalisco Mexico has utilized the FibreDust True Blue Blueberry growbag and couldn’t be happier with the results. After the company established themselves in Mexico in 2019 to produce substrates locally, they’ve also started producing blueberries there. Today, FD Berries has more than 100 hectares of blueberry production in Jalisco, and its goal is to reach more than 400 hectares in the next 3 years. The by-product of the local produced coco substrates, is coco fiber, which is now offered as a solution for erosion control.
Coir use in blueberry
“The advantages of coir use in blueberry cultivation are well documented, but there’s nothing more convincing than seeing a crop flourish with your own eyes. That’s why when we had the opportunity to start growing blueberries, we didn’t hesitate. Besides, it has always been my dream, which of course was why we started looking for it in the first place,” says Sam Ahilan, president with FibreDust. Back in 2018 his coco coir company has expanded operations into growing blueberries, under the name FD Berries. “We have the biggest showroom for our locally produced True Blue blueberry growbags here.”
FD Berries company is established in the town Gomez Farias, in the Mexican state of Jalisco. After the first successful year of growing on 14 hectare, they added another 33 hectare and last year another 60 hectare was added. In the upcoming years, they want to triple or even quadruple the current size, general manager Jorge Chavez says. “In addition, we’re focusing on buying fruit from other people and export directly to the USA, Canada and Europe.”
“We’ve been growing in the same substrates since we started, which was 4 years ago,” Jorge says. “Growers are looking for a maximum of 10 to 12 years, and we can show them here that the quality remains good. Of course we check them regularly and there’s no degradation.”
Grow bag production
The blueberries are grown in two different bags: one is 27 to 30 liter, the other one is 40 liter. Both are produced locally: Last year the US based company Fibredust announced the expansion of their Mexican operation to include the production facility in Jalisco. This 10 hectare facility offers an avenue for coir made and shipped from Mexico. The by-product, the coco fiber, is currently on offer as well. This can be used for eco-friendly erosion control and can be shipped to Mexican or US companies quickly avoiding freight hikes and container delay.
Testing and development
In addition to FD Berries being a successful export company and the biggest showroom of the growing bags, it’s also a testing area for the development of new growing bags for the blueberry market as well as other soft fruits and even products like figs.
“The most important benefits of growing hydroponically are the better yields and the better control over your irrigation and water use. Then, growing in an inert substrate brings security to a company, as there are no pathogens that can harm the plant. This goes for blueberries and for other crops as well,” says Sam. “So does the benefit of covering the ground with a ground cover – which greatly helps to avoid a lot of weeds, saving a lot in labor.” Since the conductivity of coco coir is very low and the substrate can be washed in 12 to 24 hours, it is ready for growers to plant whenever they choose. “And for whatever crop they choose.”
FD Berries has its doors open for any producer or investor to visit its operations, both blueberry production and the substrate itself, and show them the secret of its success.
AgTech Americas visited the facility. Watch the video here.
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