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The Happy Berry

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2020 Newsletters

May 25, 2020 - Blackberries Begin May 28!

The field is LOADED with berries!
The crop this year is huge! We have been blessed with near perfect weather. There has not been a single frost that put any of our crops in peril. The rain this spring has been steady with one inch or more per week. In our favor for weather this year, this is neither a La Niña or El Niño year (which historically have been very erratic).

We will be doing You-Pick as well as Pre-Picked.
While some growers have opted out of you-pick because of the Covid situation, we are giving it a go. We have established a Covid policy which is on our website. The procedures will slow down Check-in and Check-out. We request that you please take time to read the policy before coming to the farm. The policy covers implementation on the farm, and is not just a re-statement of rules which are everywhere. (We welcome your feedback as well.)

Blackberries - Thursday May 28!
The blackberries are so loaded, the weight is breaking down the trellis that support them! Prime Ark 45 and Black Magic will be first, even ahead of Choctaw. A few shiners were observed in these varieties as of 5-15, but the cool weather slowed the ripening. We will open Thursday, May 28, 2020 for the first picking of the season. Initial hours will be 9am to Noon on May 28. Then we will give the field a rest for a day, and be open again on Saturday, May 30, 9am-6pm. Then another day of rest for harvest to recover, and open June 1, 8am to 8pm. Barring any unforeseens, we expect to be open on our regular schedule from June 1 going forward.

If you are coming for pre-picked berries, be sure to call or text first. Until we are in full production (in about 5-7 days) we may have limited pre-picked available. And with covid-19, we are anticipating the demand for pre-picked may be much higher. So please contact us first! Call or Text – use Walker’s phone – 864-350-9345.

Mulberries
Dwarf Black Mulberry are next up and we think will come into season about the same time as the blackberries. This is an experimental crop for us. We have been bringing them along for 8 years, but this is the first year that we have mulberries available for harvest, we hope. It is as new to us as it is to you! They are already sweet but size is small. The birds are enjoying as soon as the mulberries get any size! We will deploy distress calls and see how it works. Pick your own only for the moment. The picking will be slow. Bear with us while we learn. Please give us your feedback!

Blueberries
Despite very heavy pruning and hedging back last summer, blueberry bushes are also bending down with the weight of fruit. Fifty pounds per bush, maybe more! All varieties are loaded. We are forecasting between June 10 and 15 for first harvest. The berries are already large. Stay tuned to our home page for more frequent updates.

Seedless table grapes
We are forecasting the seedless table grapes to start July 15.

We have had some issues with Botryosphaeria complex dieback. This disease causes grape shoots to wilt or be stunted and the cordon (arm of the grapevine) dies back during the growing season. We think the problem could be that the plants are overbearing and consequently suffering from stress, so we did a little experimental thinning last year. This spring we thinned even more, pruning all plants to one shoot per spur with a max of 40 spurs per plant (depending on pruning weight). We hope the thinning will make for less stress as well as drier vines, because of less density of foliage, and hence less other diseases too.

Figs
Even with a perfect spring we had some varieties do poorly. We are weeding out the poor performers and will replace them with more reliable types. Still, the young trees have grown and a bigger crop than last year is expected. August 1 is the forecast.

Seedless muscadines
The Razzmatazz (dark red) have grown and showed no winter injury. (We were fortunate, as other growers were reporting some winter injury.) The plants are not at full production yet but there should be a lot more than last year. We have planted "Oh My" (yellow seedless) and have "Oh Gosh" (blue seedless) in pots for planting out this fall. We are forecasting early August.

Regular Muscadines
Bullis and scuppernongs have done well and will have a full crop. We are forecasting mid August.

Persimmons
Unfortunately, we have identified a new disease (new to our field) in the Persimmon crop. It is caused by a bacterium Xylella fastidious. It causes discoloration in the xylem (the “veins” that conduct water and nutrients) in young shoots and it plugs older xylem, which is all to say that it prevents nutrients and water from moving up the tree. The result being a dieback. We have initiated a control program which addresses the vector in the spring 3.5 months before harvest, but we are will still losing some trees that were probably infected prior to initiating the vector management program. As we remove dying trees we will replace them, but it will take time for the new trees to come into full production. We are finding it difficult to find replacement trees so there are still some dying trees in the field. Still, there are plenty of healthy trees, so we should have a good harvest, more than last year, and forecast September 15 for availability.

Help Wanted
Looking for summer work? Contact Walker at the farm for job descriptions and to find out if there is an opportunity that might be a fit for you.

It should be a great season, and we hope to see you out there on the farm!
The Happy Berry Bunch - Walker, Ann, Zoe and Betty-Ann