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The Happy Berry

Newsletter

2021 Newsletters

July 12, 2021

It is Peak of Season in the Blueberries!
Picking is great! Now is the time to fill your freezers – Blueberries are easy to freeze and frozen berries are great for pancakes, muffins, pies, and fruit smoothies!  Blueberries will be at peak for (hopefully) a few weeks, and continue to mid to late August.


Still Blackberries!
It is still good picking in the blackberries.  Now picking mostly Von and Chester.  Best picking is early morning, and then, given a chance to recover over the afternoon, again at the end of the day, after 5.  Blackberries should continue with steady picking to early August. Primocane berries should start early August but the picking will be slower.  


Soon!! But not yet -- Seedless grapes
Please don’t pick the grapes yet.  They are in the veraison stage, when even though they look ripe, they are not sweet yet.  

We think we will have pre-picked grapes available around the middle of the week (July 14 or 15?) and open the fields for pick your own next weekend (July 17-18).

Figs - Harvest Forecast is August 1.  

Seedless Razzmatazz Muscadines 
Last year we started picking Razzmatazz on August 5, but not sure yet for this year.  

Muscadines
The projected harvest is August 15, but like the seedless, it is still up in the air.  Stay tuned to our website home page or Facebook for the most up to date status.  

Persimmons  
We are still forecasting mid-September for the Persimmons to start.

Bring Your Own Buckets
We encourage you to bring your own containers for picking. We will subtract the weight of the container so it does not impact your purchase price.  Or alternatively, we welcome you to use our containers in the field for picking, then transfer the berries to your own containers to take home.

Recommendations for containers:
No bags. Bags do not work well as they crush the berries. Long and low containers work well for blackberries. Blackberries crush easily if you pile them too high. For blueberries, a bucket no bigger than 2 gallons works well. Containers deeper than 2 gallons will crush the blueberries.

Open Rain or Shine
The farm is open Rain or Shine – and remember that just because it is raining at your house does not mean it is raining at the farm.  Note: For the most up-to-date crop conditions and operating hours, please visit our homepage.

Regular Season Hours (June–September)
Monday–Friday: 8am until 8pm
Saturday: 8am until 6pm
Sunday: Noon until 8pm

Farm Phone
This time of year, if you are calling for a weather check, harvest status, or to place a prepick order, please call the phone farm (instead of Walker) and speak with one of the porch crew.  That number is 
(864) 508-6939.  

Summer Help:
We are still looking for 1 or 2 more who can work this summer. If you are interested, please call Walker – 864-350-9345.

The Picking is ON! Hope to see you in the fields!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

June 18, 2021

Blackberries -
Blackberries are ripe and and picking time is fairly short. There are more varieties to come, and though we were hurt by the April freeze, picking is steady. Best picking will always be in the mornings before it gets picked over.

Now picking Black Magic, Prime Ark 45 Chickasaw, Kiowa, a few Caddo (a new thornless variety) that are in their second leaf, and Ouchita. We start Von this week and Chester is couple to 3 weeks out. It is a big, big crop of Chester!

Blueberries-
Blueberries  have begun. We are currently picking the Climax and Premier varieties and they are big and sweet!  Picking time per gallon of blueberries is still near an hour. But soon there will be blueberries everywhere!

Harvest Forecast

  • Table Grapes are still forecasted to begin about July 10-14.
  • Figs are looking good.  Forecast is to begin around August 1.
  • Seedless Muscadines look like they will be a little early - perhaps August 5ish
  • Muscadines are still on schedule for mid August.   
  • Persimmons are still up in the air but the trees are looking good.


Operating hours this year are the same as last year.

Note: For the most up-to-date crop conditions and operating hours, please visit our home page.

  • Monday–Friday: 8am until 8pm
  • Saturday: 8am until 6pm
  • Sunday: Noon until 8pm


Farm Phone
For prepick orders, harvest status and general questions,
please use our new Farm Phone Number (864) 508-6939. 


Other Tips and Tidbits:

Payment Options:
Athough we prefer cash we are upgrading our ability to take Visa/MC credit cards at the farm and the markets. 

Containers:
We encourage you to bring your own containers for picking. Or alternatively, we welcome you to use our containers in the field for picking, then transfer the berries to your own containers to take home. Recommendations for containers: No bags. Bags do not work well as they crush the berries. Long and low containers work well for blackberries. Blackberries crush easily if you pile them too high. For blueberries, a bucket no bigger than 2 gallons works well. Containers deeper than 2 gallons will crush the blueberries.

Dress for success!
Please no sandles or flip flops. The terrain is uneven, and in places, sometimes steep. Please wear shoes with good tread for walking around the farm, and we recommend sunscreen and hats for sun protection.

We are still looking for 1 or 2 more employees who can work this summer. Pay is based on age, ability and experience. Proper identification and Social Security card are required. For anyone less than 16 years old we also require a letter of permission from parents. Seniors encouraged to apply. Please call Walker if you are interested: (864) 350-9345.


The Picking is ON! Hope to see you in the fields!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch for Zoe, Brian, Betty-Ann and the farm crew.

May 30, 2021

We are in need of 1 or 2 more summer employees. Pay is based on age, ability and experience. Please come see us. Bring proper identification and Social Security card. For anyone less than 16 years old we require a letter of permission from parents also. Seniors encouraged to apply.

April 22 Frost impacts Blackberries and Persimmons-
In the Blackberries:
Chester has a full crop and Von blackberries have almost a full crop. Kiowa and Chickasaw varieties had a 70 to 80% survival rate. The Ouachita were harder hit with maybe 45% of a crop and a lot of that is on secondary shoots. Natchez has only maybe 10-15% of a crop, all on secondary shoots. Prime Ark 45, primocane bearer, has about 15% of primary floracane flowers plus secondary floracane flowers for a total 40 - 45% of a crop. We think the Black Magic is similar or a little less. So overall we think about 55% of a crop of Blackberries.

We will be open for pick your own on Sunday June 6, Tuesday June 8, and Thursday June 10. Then we will be open daily. It will be slow picking at first but will improve rapidly. There will probably be limited availability for pre-picked blackberries that first week.

Persimmons -
Bottom line, we are estimating 50% of a crop and possibly a little more with the increased size of the trees. We are forecasting mid-September for the Persimmons to start.

The details:
Our Kaki sweet (non astringent) persimmons took a hit. Some trees got burned back while a tree right beside it was not impacted. The burned back trees have pretty much fully recovered but the secondary shoots have very few flower buds. We have been expanding the number of trees and Fuyu Matsomoto, a sweet Kaki which ripens a little later than Isu will have a good number of fruit this year. We also have planted some Fuyu Gaki, which ripens a little later than the Matsomoto but it will not have any fruit this year.

Blueberries -
The good news is that we have almost a 100% of a crop of blueberries. Only the Climax variety was impacted by the five freezes we had this March and April. The wind Machine saved the day. We ran it all five nights with some tense moments when the Manifold cracked. Thanks to Ray Reid (Reid's machine Repair 864-506-6890) and late night welding work we were able to keep it going. We forecast the the blueberries to start June 15 and go to about September 1.

Seedless grapes
We have a good crop. Just slightly smaller due to the April 22nd freeze. The table grapes will have a little later start this year. We are projecting them to start mid July. They were burned back by the April 22nd frost but secondary buds have grown out and have flower racemes so it looks like it will only be a small loss. There will be a bigger spread in maturation of the berries- they won’t come in all at once but spread out over a longer season. Flower bunches on secondary shoots will probably mature later so it will take more care when you are harvesting. Harvest Forecast is mid July to early September.

Fig trees were also burned back by the April 22nd freeze. We are up in the air with what to expect. If the secondary shoots develop figs normally , we are good! If not we may have to make a mid season adjustment in price. We will advise as soon as we know and will be watching them "like a hawk." Harvest Forecast is August 1 - September 15.

Muscadines were not impacted by the freeze. However, because of the lack of help/labor we got behind in pruning muscadines in both the seeded and seedless varieties. The de-vigoration caused by late pruning is visible on some plants. We are not sure if they will catch up. We think/hope the impact will be small.

In the seedless muscadines, we will have a few "Oh My" this year along with the Razzmatazz. The projected harvest is August 15 thru October.

Our operating hours this year will be the same as last year.
Operating Hours- 2021
Note: For the most up-to-date crop conditions and operating hours, please visit our home page.
Monday–Friday: 8am until 8pm
Saturday: 8am until 6pm
Sunday: Noon until 8pm

Price discussion-
Because of the crop losses, inflation in price of inputs and increasing repairs on aging equipment the family agreed we need to go up in price. The You-Pick prices for Blackberries, Blueberries, Seedless Table Grapes and Figs is going up to $3.35 per pound. The You-Pick price for Scuppernog & Bullis Muscadines will be $3 per pound. Seedless Muscadines (Razzmatazz and Oh My) will stay at $5 per pound. Persimmons are only sold as pre-picked (and no price change). The full price chart can be found on our home page.

We hate having to raise prices, and we worried about this impacting our customers negatively in being able to afford healthy food. But the bottom line is that our costs have gone up, our equipment is getting old and needs more frequent repairs (and/or to be replaced) and in prior years we have barely covered our costs or took a loss.

At the farmer markets we can take Senior Citizen and WIC vouchers. They are not permitting us to take them at our on-farm location in 2021 because on-farm also offers you-pick. We have argued that those in need get maximum healthy food for the dollar if they come to the farm to pick their own. The state has agreed with us but it is a federal program. They are working on it and if things change we will let you know immediately.

Although we prefer cash we are upgrading our ability to take credit cards at the farm and the market.

OTHER NEWS:
Sustainability

Walker and the family are excited about our use of pine trees to address global warming issues such as passive frost protection, protection from damage of violent summer storms, cooling both the bushes and the you-pick customers. After more than 10 years we thinks we are seeing inter species cooperation (commensalism) between the blueberries and the pines. Perhaps it is Mycorizzhiae. Is it hydraulic redistribution of water? Shared photosynthate between species? Where we were having a difficult time getting a blueberry plant to grow we planted mainly loblolly pine because there was more sunlight for the pines. Those sick blueberries are now growing well!

The Happy Berry 2021 Team
We have a wonderful team for the summer. We are excited that Annie Buck has returned to work for us this summer and that Paul McJunkin will continue to be working 1/2 days for us. Paul is an amazing help. He is interesting guy and volunteers on other farms as well. One is a buffalo farm! Brian Hayes has been doing some amazing repairs in the old house and been stalwart in getting winter work done. In fact his whole family has volunteered and has been increcible help. We are pleased to announce Shelby Durham will be joining the team and working part time this summer. She has been amazing...Perennial weeds in a perennial farm is really tough problem. Together, Shelby and Annie took on the problem and licked it!

We are still looking for 1 or 2 more who can work this summer, as we mentioned at the opening of the newsletter. Please talk to Walker if you are interested.

We hope to see you in the berry patch! Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch for Zoe, Brian, Betty-Ann and our help.