Tahlequah Daily Press

May 22, 2013

Berry crops will be late this year

By ROB W. ANDERSON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Cold weather has delayed the blueberry and blackberry harvest in the local area.

Blueberries can usually be picked as early as May, while blackberries are said to peak during the month of June. Unseasonable cooler air temperatures, though, have blunted the ripening process.  

Recent rainfall has provided adequate amounts of water for blueberry growth, but picking conditions won’t arrive for another two weeks, said Blueberry Acres owner-operator Clayton Denton. His blueberry farm has around 3,000 plants.

“At this point, I’m looking at having ripe berries around the first of June,” he said. “We have a fairly good set of berry bushes set, but we’re down in terms of numbers of live bushes. We’ve lost probably about more than a third to drought and age. They’ve been stressed over the past three years.”

Blueberry Acres, 10151 N. 510 Road, is in Moodys, and Denton said people who wish to do so are welcome to come out and pick their own berries as soon as the harvest can begin.  

“The only way to purchase from us is directly from the farm. We’ll be taking orders at [(918) 525-2730] for berries already picked,” he said. “And we certainly welcome people to come out and pick for their own use. We’ll be open pretty much every day.”

Denton noted the best picking time is in the morning, as temperatures will be cooler on both the picker and the berry.

“I’ll open the gate at 7 a.m. The ideal picking time is between then and no later than 3 p.m.,” he said. “The reason for that is the berries could be as much as 50 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature in the air. They absorb a lot of heat, and they don’t keep well if they’re bruised.”

Blueberry Acres sells berries by the gallon and will provide gallon buckets for pickers. Denton said pickers need not bring gloves as the berries need to be carefully picked individually by bare hand to avoid bruising, but noted the need for a fruit picking belt/bucket to increase picking efficiency.

 

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