Tahlequah Daily Press

July 16, 2013

Berry harvest ends; peaches ripe

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Summer is in full swing, and if you need proof, check out the burgeoning shelves lining the produce sections of the markets.

Local blueberry grower Clayton Denton said his harvest for this season is over, and he’s pleased with the results.

“We have a few straggling berries left,” said Denton. “With the stress the plants received the past two years under the drought, it will take another year or so to get them back in shape. We’re working on building everything up again. Overall, though, it’s been a good harvest.”

Spring rains bolstered this year’s crop, and Denton’s farm, Blueberry Acres, has about 3,000 plants. As with many fruit growers, Denton opened his Moody’s farm for people to pick their own berries.

“We had quite a few people come pick berries for their own personal use,” said Denton. “We also had our own people picking for retail sales. I’d say on our busiest day, we had about 40 people here.”

Denton will be able to predict more about next year’s crop in the late spring.

“We’ll be open again next year, and will know sometime around mid-May about what kind of harvest we’ll have,” said Denton.

While fruit lovers may have to resort to getting blueberries from the market, there’s still plenty of time to pick peaches in Porter.

The 47th annual Porter Peach Festival will take place in downtown Porter Thursday through Saturday, July 18-20, and Roy Essary, festival chairman, hopes to have a big crowd for the event.

“We’ve got a full crop of peaches for the festival,” said Essary. “The more popular varieties are running a couple of weeks later this year, but we’ll have enough peaches to take us into late September.”

A late freeze could have taken out the entire crop, said Essary.

“Actually, we had a really hard freeze late enough in the year that it should have killed everything,” said Essary. “But the trees were in a late bud stage, and we just slipped through without damage.”

Mild temperatures are predicted for the week, which may boost festival attendance.

“I think we’ll have a big crowd,” said Essary. “The weather will be at least 10 degrees cooler than last year, which is good. We’ll have free bowls of peaches and ice cream to hand out to everyone. We usually pass out anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 servings. Somehow, the peaches just taste better that way. It’s kind of like eating out on the banks of the river; the fried potatoes always seem to taste better.”


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