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The Happy Berry

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2022 Newsletters

Aug 6, 2022 - Figs at Peak of Season!

We have lots and lots of figs! 
Picking won't get better than this. Figs are not just fabulous when fresh!  Have you tried cutting them in half, stuffing with feta cheese wrapping them in bacon and baking in the oven for a few minutes? Yum!  Stock up now while it is easy picking. Now is the time to preserve them. You can freeze and they are great as a natural sweetener in smoothies. They also dehydrate well.

Remember that the best picking will always be in the mornings and early afternoon. Mid to late afternoon is when we send the pickers to restock our pre-picked inventory and clear the trees. Clearing the trees of ripe fruit each afternoon is  important so that we do not have a bee problem.  Figs are so sweet, and as they ripen and crack, they ooze sugar. That draws the bees, who, with serrated tongue, will lap a conical hole into the fig. The bees can be hard to see and if you grab a bee burdened fig, they might sting you!  Giving the fig a little bump before you pick it will help prevent that from happening.

When picking - make sure you look in and under the tree's foilage. Fig leaves are fairly larger and the ripe figs can hide under them.

Check out our picking tips online.

Razzmatazz have begun & Still Table Grapes
We are picking Razzmatazz now. Razzmatazz are a seedless muscadine, with much smaller berries than the Bullis (black) and Scuppernong (bronze or golden) muscadines  Ripe fruit should be dark red, and is both sweet and tart.  They go great cooked in pancakes! 

Still picking the dessert table grapes - Saturn, Hope, Mars and Joy.

Seeded muscadines (Bullis and Scuppernong) are still out maybe 3 weeks.

Blueberries & Blackberries - still some, for those willing to work for it.
There are still blueberries to be picked but only for you-pick. We are running the distress calls of the robin's ecosystem to protect them for you. The blueberries are scattered and you have to scout and once found stay until the bush is cleaned off.

There is just a trickle of primocane blackberries each morning. And they will continue for next 6-8 weeks. 

We no longer have any pre-picked blueberries or blackberries available.


Persimmons
Still forecasting a big crop and harvest to begin mid-September.


Other News
We finally got our 4 wheel drive mower fixed and one of the golf carts going. We are working on getting the mowing caught up.


We hope to see you in the fields!
Walker Miller and The Happy Berry Bunch
 

July 22, 2022-Table Grapes are IN & Figs Begin

Blueberries – Picking Has Slowed
There are still plenty of blueberries out there, but you have to scout for them, and then need to look down, in and under the bush to find the ripe treasures.  While blueberries will continue until the end of August, peak of season is over.  Varieties that are currently producing are the Tifblue, On Slow, Powderblue and Centurion. 


Blackberries – A Steady Trickle
The Chester variety of blackberry is ripening now. This variety is very productive, up to 40 tons per acre, but it picks over a long time so there are always red berries and you have to pick the black out from the mass of red. So you have to be willing to look for them. These berries make the best jam and pies. The primo cane blackberries also have been and are continuing to bloom and will fruit all the way to frost. The fruit are born on top of the canes.  They tend to be scattered and some time get so heavy they bend down or worse the stem breaks. We have 2 varieties and will be adding a third New Horizon. New Horizon will have fewer thorns (but still has some thorns). If you have been to the farm you can see that we are replanting the blackberries. The objective is to transition, as much as possible, to thornless varieties. The early will be Ponca, Mid Season Caddo, and late midseason Von and Late Chester and then ending the season are the primo cane blackberries.


Seedless Table Grapes are IN
Mars – Excellent Picking. Mars is a dark blue grape.
Venus – Good Picking.  Venus is blue and round.
Jupiter – Still some out there. Jupiter is purplish and oval and perhaps the sweetest and one of the most popular – so it has had heavy picking pressure.  

Hope, Saturn and Joy are starting.
Joy is dark blue, oval and very sweet. 
Saturn is more purplish and crunchy in texture, and sweet.
Hope is a green grape and because it is green is hard to know when they are ripe. You will need to develop your skill for determining what a ripe cluster looks like. Taste. Is it sweet? No? Note the shade of green. Try another cluster. Taste again. Sweet? Yes - Note the shade of green. Trial and error until you get a good idea of what shade of green is the sweet that you want. 

The seedless table grapes have several problems.  One of which is Botryosphaeria canker.  The key to controlling this disease is to cut the grape clusters off the vine leaving a short stub – Please do NOT tear the clusters from the vine.  If a cluster of grapes is torn off the vine it leaves a wound that takes weeks to heal and during the time is very susceptible to the fungus. When clusters are cut, leaving the short stub, that short stub actually produces chemicals that protect the vine. Please use snippers, scissors or flower snippers to harvest the seedless grape clusters.  See our picking tips for a good how-to.


FIGS Begin!
Figs are coming on. Picking will be slow this weekend, but improving quickly.  We are predicting the flush of figs  and peak picking will be the first couple weeks of August, but they continue to ripen into September. Try to pick figs with the stem on.  They will keep longer in the refrigerator if you do.  The good news is - it looks like there is going to be a lot of figs this year!  The trees are loaded.


Muscadines
We are already seeing some shiners in the seedless muscadines, mainly the Razzmatazz. The Razzmatazz is loaded with the biggest crop ever.  Your challenge will be find where we have them planted. They are on the other side of the blackberries from muscadines that start below the red roof in the field.  

There will also be some OhMy seedless muscadines, but not as much as we had hoped. OhMy apparently needs to be stressed for nutrition and they were fertilized this spring and aborted some of the flowers. 

We are still forecasting mid- to late August for the regular seeded muscadines, Scuppernong and Bullis. They are looking great but need mowing. We will get it done. 

With all our muscadine varieties, we should have them well into October.


Persimmons
The persimmons are starting to show on the trees. Looks like our biggest crop ever. Mid September until November is harvest season. This is the one crop we have not done pick-your-own.  Why?  They have a woody stem that must be cut with snippers and the woody stem is hard to cut.  Two, we don’t want folks climbing the trees…they are brittle and break easily.  Third - can’t have folks on ladders for insurance reasons


Our Mission  
-Produce healthy, wholesome fruits
-Grown sustainably, in a resilient fashion, in an ecologically safe system for humans and the planet, and to
-Provide for our local and extended community through direct sales, local stores and farmers markets. 

Thank you for your support!  We would not be here without you!
Walker Miller and The Happy Berry Bunch
 

July 2, 2022 - Blueberries - Peak of Season!

We are open regular hours throughout the July fourth weekend.
Saturday July 2 - 8am to 6pm
Sunday July 3 - Noon to 8pm
Monday July 4 - 8am to 8pm


Blueberries - Peak of Season!  
It is peak of season in the blueberries.  The Centurions have started.  Tifblue, Columbus and others have started. Powderblue, the late season variety, has started also.  The early season varieties (Climax and Premier) are winding up but there are still some out there and, if you can find them, they are really sweet. While the blueberry season runs from early June to late August, this is the time to be filling your freezer for winter pies, pancakes and smoothies! 


Blackberries are in a lull but there are still blackberries. 
They are down, in and under in Ouachita, Caddo and Chickasaw, so it requires looking for them.  The Von blackberries are coming in and the Chester berries are showing shiners so you might find a few there too. The Primocane berries are also ripening. Look for those berries at the top of the canes as well as down, in and under.


Table Grapes - Not Yet but SOON
The seedless table grapes are in veraison.  This is the time when they look ripe, but they are not sweet yet. It will be a week or 10 days more (from July 1) before the first varieties, Joy and Jupiter, will be ready to pick. Stay tuned for updates, and in the meantime - even though they look ready - Please do not pick the grapes!  


Figs - August 1
A big crop of figs is expected. They will start about August 1 and be at peak volume for 2 weeks ... it is amazing! After that first couple of weeks, they settle down but harvest will continue until September, until it gets too cool for them to get real sweet.


Muscadines - the nutriceutical secret of the south!
Muscadines will start mid to late August.  The Razzmatazz seedless muscadines are looking great.  These small sweet/tart beauties may have a few berries ready by the end of the first week of August but will hit stride in mid August. We are hoping for the Oh My series of seedless Muscadine, which are bigger than Razzmatazz, to ripen at the same time.  Oh Gosh plants are just making it to the wire but have a couple of berries. Oh Goodness are still in pots to be planted out this fall.  


Persimmons - Looking Good
The Persimmons seem to be loaded so we are hoping for a plentiful harvest.  Remember that they self thin themselves.  If you see green fruit on the ground, not to worry, it is a natural process that results in really sweet fruit later.  With no seeds, these non-astringent persimmons are not to be missed.  Forecast for Persimmon Season is September and October.


Jujubes and mulberries are live and growing but it will be a few years until they bear fruit. Kiwi plants are in the ground. We have a few extra plants.  $50 for two mates (male and female) while they last. (Remember this is experimental for us.)


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 and speak with one of the porch crew.  That number is (864) 508-6939.  


Come get some fresh berries to include in your 4th of July gatherings! 
Walker Miller and The Happy Berry Bunch
 

June 11 - Excellent Picking in Blackberries & Blueberries!

Blackberries and Blueberries are in and the picking is Excellent!

We have many varieties of both so we are predicting that it will continue to be excellent picking, weather permitting. Currently, both crops have the bushes loaded with sweet big juicy berries just waiting for you to pick!

Pre-picked also available.


OPEN 7 Days a Week 
Monday through Friday - 8am to 8pm
Saturday - 8am to 6
Sunday - Noon to 8pm
Open Rain or Shine


Can't Make It To The Farm?
You can also find your Happy Berry Bunch and our yummy fresh picked blackberries and blueberries at these Local Farmers Markets:         
-Wednesday: Pendleton Market 10am-1pm in Pendleton down town Historic Square
-Thursday: Patrick Square 4pm-7pm  off of Issaqueena Trail in Clemson 
-Saturday: Greenville TD Downtown Farmers Market 8-Noon off of Main Street in front of the Carolina Steak and Ale, under the old Oak tree across from the Westin Poinsett Hotel. 

Our berries are also freshly available at some of these fresh local supporters in our area:
- The Farmacy in Easley
- Swamp Rabbit in Greenville
- Mile Creek Market in Six Mile, 
- Lindley's Produce in Clemson      
- and possibly others soon to come.
(For those interested Contact us at 864-350-9345. Providing good quality, healthy foods for our local communities is a very serious matter to us.)


Need a Charge?
We have 2 electric charger's available to use (in the lower parking area near our sales barn) so that you can charge your car for free while you visit us at the farm. First come first serve availability for electric car chargers.


Future Harvest Forecast

  • Seedless grapes will start mid July.
  • Figs around the 1 of August.
  • Muscadines mid-August.
    This year we should have, in addition to the seedless Razzmatazz,  some Oh My seedless muscadines.
  • Persimmons mid September.
    This year will be our biggest crop ever of seedless sweet persimmons. I am worried we need to keep them from breaking the tree branches by propping them up somehow. We will let you know soon. 


We hope to see you soon!
Wishing everyone a Berry Happy Weekend!

Walker Miller and The Happy Berry Bunch
 

Blackberries May 31 - Blueberries June 8

Bumper Crop Anticipated for Summer 2022!

Blackberries You-Pick Begins Tuesday, May 31. 

  • Open Tuesday, May 31 - 9am to 6pm
  • Closed Wednesday June 1
  • Open Thursday June 2 - 8am to 8pm
  • Closed Friday June 3
  • Open Saturday June 4- 8am to 6pm
  • Open Sunday June 5 - Noon to 8pm

(Open Regular Summer Hours beginning Saturday, June 4 and through the rest of the season.)

Picking will be slow at first. 
The first blackberry varieties to ripen are the Prime Ark 45 and there will be some of the Caddo blackberry, a thornless variety. The Chickasaw variety were showing a few red berries on May 26 so will be ripening soon too, maybe June 12. We cut the Natchez variety very hard to reduce crop load and get sweeter berries. It is normally an early berry but I think it will be the 15th of June before they are ready. Ouachita, Von and Chester varieties will be much later.

There may be limited pre-picked available the first week, but if you are  making a special trip, it will be best to call first.

Blueberries - Picking to Begin Wednesday, June 8
We will start picking blueberries June 8. Picking will start slow.  Starting the season will be the varieties Climax and Premier. As with the blackberries there is big crop of blueberries and the bushes are drooping into the row middles with the weight of the berries. They will need your help to get the load off them!  

Future Harvest Forecast

  • Seedless grapes will start mid July.
  • Figs around the 1 of August.
  • Muscadines mid-August.
    This year we should have, in addition to the seedless Razzmatazz,  some Oh My seedless muscadines.
  • Persimmons mid September.
    This year will be our biggest crop ever of seedless sweet persimmons. I am worried we need to keep them from breaking the tree branches by propping them up somehow. We will let you know soon. 

Farm News 

2022 Prices:
In family discussion we have set our prices for the 2022 season. They have been updated and are posted on our website.  We never want to raise our prices but the cost of inputs has gotten even worse since even our March newsletter. Those of you who pick-your-own and are paying cash will be getting the best deal. 

In the Field:
Everything got pruned in time this year.  Last year we were late, and experienced some “devigoration” but this year everything is looking fantastic. We are still working on weed control. We are doing what we call “Walk-about.” We walk over the planting looking for perennial weeds.  When we find one we cut it off just above ground line and the take a small paint brush and paint the stump with a weed management “farmaceutical.”These perennial weeds, like oak trees, are impossible to pull up.  This is the second year for this procedure. It is taking less time and we hope it will take even less time next year. This is a hands and knees operation. 

We experienced a little “Mummy berry” in the blueberries and some “Double blossom” in the blackberries despite applying farmaceuticals for disease control.  The good news is we are transitioning to varieties that are resistant to these diseases and they are thornless too. The damage is minimal. Although several of our perennial insect problems have shown up in scouting we thankfully have had virtually no damage (so far).

Diversification is proceeding with the construction of Kiwi trellis; the addition of Mulberry trees, (variety Girardia) the addition of Jujubes, and we added another variety of persimmons. We are adding tea plants. We hope to top work the Pawpaws in June. 

Welcome to Charlie – our new Bird Manager!
We have a Volunteer Bird Manager, Mr. Charlie Quattlebaum, soon to be 15, and he is quite knowledgeable. We are excited he has joined the team. 


See you in the field!

Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch, Zoe, BettyAnn, Brian, Levi, Paul, Hunter, Charlie and all our workers.  
 

March 12-13 Spring Freeze

The Happy Berry Newsletter 2022 issue 2

March 12-13, 2022. Frost damage is minimal.

Some background first. The stages of flower development are divided into 12 stages ranging from tight bud to petal fall. Stage 4, bud break, is damaged at 20 degrees F. Stage 8, early pink bud, is damaged by 24 degrees. Stage 10, early bloom, can tolerate temperatures 28 degrees. Stage 12, Petal fall, and beyond is damaged at 32 degrees. On March 12 the weather forecast was for 21 degrees. The flowers ranged from bud burst to full bloom.

We decided to run our wind machine which capitalizes on a warm air inversion off of 18,000 acre Lake Keowee. The cold air settles off the Blue Ridge escarpment to our Northwest on to the lake. The air that was on the lake that was warmed by the lake and picked up moisture from the lake is pushed up over the farm. As it rises the moisture condenses and contributes more heat to the air mass. Eventually the cold air builds to point under the warm air till it is above plants at the farm. The wind machine also prevents a boundary layer from forming around the flower that enables super cooling. We generally start the wind machine at 35 degrees.

So what happened? We got a late start, 10:30 PM when temperatures had already dropped to 27 degrees, because of a battery problem. The temperatures at The Happy Berry held 30 degrees F (it went up when we started the wind machine) from 10:30 PM March 12 till 4 AM on March 13. At 4 AM the inversion off of Lake Keowee appeared to give out, possibly due to the intensity of cold that got deeper than the wind machine could pull down from above. By 4:30 AM the temperature reached 24 degrees and remained there till the temperature started rise at 9AM. Neighboring weather stations in the Weather Underground network were reporting 21 degrees. The wind machine was shut down at 11AM March 13 at 35 degrees.

All flower stages from stage nine and up were killed. Stage 8 was a “mixed bag.” Some varieties such as Centurion were in stage 4 or below and had no injury. Many varieties had 10% plus or minus in stage 9 and up. The Climax variety had 35% of the flowers in stage 9 and up. To have a full crop of blueberries, assuming a full crop of flowers, you only need 80% of the flowers to set a full crop. We sprayed with a fungicide last fall to prevent leaf disease (flower bud formation occurs during 12 hour days) so that we had a full crop of flowers going into freeze events in the spring.

Bottom line at this point it looks like a full crop except on the Climax variety which will be down a little, 15%? We are seeing more buds that we did not count so maybe less. Sunday morning and Monday morning March 27 and 28 temperatures of 34 degrees are forecasted and we have many more flowers in the stages 10 to 12. The worry is supper cooling and we think we will run the wind machine for 2-3 hours each morning to prevent boundary layer formation and pull more heat into the system. We have not heard from other blueberry growers yet what happened elsewhere.

Here’s hoping for a good season!!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

March 2022 - Spring Report

The Happy Berry Newletter March 2022

Spring report
As of March 5 - Daffodils were in full bloom, forsythia was in full bloom, Maples were ready to be dropping seed in a few days, blueberry buds were swollen and cracked and even a few flowers showing. 

Then March 12-13 and the big dip in temperatures hit. 
We appreciate all the calls and concerns - The good news is that the frost damage was minimal.  For those who are interested, the in depth details are posted online. Please go to our website and read the full story!  

Farm News

I will start this newsletter with the bad news. We had to up what we pay labor this past year by 25%.  Fertilizer prices are up 28%. Fuel prices are up 59% by the barrel over last year.  Supplies are up approximately 18% - and that is if you can get them.  Many weed management and other “farmaceuticals” are just not to be had, which means more labor. So we are sorry… but berry prices are going to have to go up if we are to stay in business. We will have a family discussion and I will share the results later.

In the Field:
There is still 1 acre of blueberries to get pruned and at least 2 acres of grapes to get pruned. Are there any volunteers?  Free lessons! The good news is the organic dormant treatments for white spot disease are complete.

With minimal damage after the last freeze - We still have most of everything at this point!  In addition, we are making significant additions to farm diversity this spring.

Kiwis
We are adding a winter hardy Kiwi called Ken’s Red. 

Mulberries
We lost the entire planting of Dwarf Black Mulberry, from Japan; that we planted about 9 years ago to a disease called Xylella fastidiosa.  We are replacing it with Girardia a dwarf black mulberry that is slow growing, about a foot a year.  Girardia, which is a North America mulberry, we hope is resistant plus we will use cultural tactics to prevent the disease.

Jujubes
We are adding Jujubes- an Asian delicacy. Jujube fruits, also known as red or Chinese dates, are low in calories and rich in fiber and other nutrients. The varieties are from the province of Dongzao (Sugar cane) and Shanxi. We have gotten one tree, Zhanhua, a thornless Jujube. If it works out we will increase it using root shoots.

Persimmons
We are continuing to grow our number of Kaki persimmons. 

Blackberries
We have decided to transition to all thornless blackberries.  We have Caddo in the ground and after second leaf in the field it still looks really healthy with no virus symptoms. There are 36 viruses of blackberries that shorten the life of a planting.  We are adding more Caddo this year and we are adding Ponca an early variety that is thornless. We increased our Von variety in 2021 so next year we should have more Von variety.  We have removed a good bit of our Kiowa.  And some we are replacing with Chester, an old, late summer bearing USDA variety that is very productive. 

Paw Paws
About twenty years ago we planted about 10 Paw Paws, a Native American fruit. All ten of the seedlings survived but grafts did not take and the seedlings have turned it into ¼ acre PawPaw patch.  We are on the search for improved varieties to top work them. Do you know anybody with a good Paw Paw tree that would share some bud wood with us?


A final note on diversity:  In the past few decades we have lost 2/3 of wild mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and insects related to pollution (greenhouse gases) and the associated climate change. To address this issue we have added pine trees for cooling, passive frost protection, and carbon sequestration. We are also now leaving wild life corridors creating habitat for birds including boxes and forage.


Carbon Capture
Maybe we are bragging but we are very proud of it. When we started in 1979, the farm was almost completely highly eroded old cotton land with an organic matter content of half a percent. That is equivalent to about 5 tons per acre of sequestered organic matter or if we accept that in general 65% is Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) then we have about 3.25 tons of sequestered Carbon.  Today we are approaching 10% organic matter or that is 200,000 tons of soil Organic Matter (SOM) or 130 tons of SOC sequestered.  Compare that to industrial farming practices which are doing good to maintain a steady state of SOM or evening declining if they are not following good soil conservation practices. But when I compare that to what was here 500 years ago, before the introduction of the plow, there was at least 8 times and possibly 16 times as much carbon sequestered or 2080 tons of carbon/ acre. So we at The Happy Berry have a long way to go, but I think we can safely say we have sequestered 25,000 tons of carbon and we are proud of it.


A final note on carbon… We have research plots, in cooperation with Clemson University, where we are looking at converting our waste stream to charcoal. Charcoal not only sequesters carbon for hundreds to thousands of years it greatly enhances the fertility of the soil. The plots are: no fertilizer and no charcoal; Charcoal at 5 tons to the acre; charcoal at 5 tons plus fertilizer and fertilizer only.  The observational results to date after 4 years are no difference in any of the plots. Our interpretation to date are that 40 years of wind row composting is eliminating the need for fertilizer, that charcoal, which increase water percolation and water holding capacity, has no negative effects and continuous addition from our waste stream will increase sequestration and fertility. Our dream is to have a charcoal kiln on the farm!


I will update you in 6 weeks after we get past frost season. 


Thank you for your support!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch