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The Happy Berry

Newsletter

2021 Newsletters

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.