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Updated: 04/06/2014 01:19:03AM

Fla. blueberries booming

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BY The Associated Press

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TAMPA (AP) — The humble blueberry is enjoying a bonanza in Florida.

In the last decade, the area harvested with blueberries in Florida has tripled, the Tampa Bay Times Reported Saturday.

This year’s crop is expected to reach around 25 million pounds. That’s small-time compared to top producer Chile, which exports about 174 million pounds, mostly to the United States.

But it’s not that far off U.S. blueberry leader Michigan, which produced about 87 million pounds in 2012. Farmers credit experts at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences for the growth. Their Plant Innovation Program developed about 98 percent of the southern highbush berries now grown in the state.

Grower Alto Straughn says the UF versions of the berries are better, bigger, tastier and provide more yield.