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Excitement reigns at M. D’Ottavio Produce over first blueberry harvest at Old Homestead Blue Farm

Michael D’Ottavio, president of M. D’Ottavio Produce Inc. in Vineland, NJ, told The Produce News that it is very excited about its first blueberry harvest at the D’Ottavio Old Homestead Blue Farm, also in Vineland.

Dottavio3561At a company blueberry field in Vineland, NJ, at the end of May: Mike D’Ottavio (second from right), president of M. D’Ottavio Produce Inc.; his brother, Leon D’Ottavio (right), who heads maintenance and third-party audits at the company; Leon’s daughter, Savannah, who will be 2 years old in July and who represents the fifth generation; and their mother, Elaine D’Ottavio. Photo by Gordon M. Hochberg.

The name of the farm was adapted because it was the first farm that D’Ottavio’s grandfather cleared and started to grow on in 1903.

M. D’Ottavio Produce Inc., as it is organized today, is now celebrating 25 years in business.

“We will harvest the first 60 acres at the Old Homestead Blue Farm this year,” said D’Ottavio. “It is a five-year plan that increases in acreage each year. By 2018 we will have 150 acres of blueberries on the farm.”

He added that with all new varieties and plants on the Old Homestead Blue Farm, and being only three years old, the blueberries will have exceptional taste and fantastic sizing.

“Our Natures Eye watering system, developed by Lee Rain Inc., located here in Vineland, is operating flawlessly,” said D’Ottavio. “It uses 40 percent less water than conventional watering systems, and 30 percent less fuel. These benefits are helping us to do what we can for the environment, and at the same time, get the most production from our plants.”

M. D’Ottavio Produce planted a bee habitat over three years ago. It has proven successful at promoting a natural bee pollinating source for the company’s blueberries.

“We will be shipping a new box and label this season that my son Anthony, and daughter Erica helped to design,” said D’Ottavio. “We will have multiple packs such as conventional, commonly referred to as CV, pints and one-pound clamshells.”

The company will also have organic blueberries in pints and in 18-ounce clamshells available this season.

The company is Primus certified, “And our new loading dock is completely refrigerated,” added D’Ottavio. “This ensures that we are fully food-safety compliant.”

D’Ottavio said the company is right on track for a mid-June start date with its blueberry crop.

“May was cloudy with a little more rain than normal,” he noted. “The weather is now more typical for this time of year. I feel this will give us a nice flow of fruit as compared to last year when the heat brought the fruit on all at once.

“As far as the market goes, no one will know that until August, but I wish everyone a favorable year,” added D’Ottavio.

The company also offers a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, including imports.