The Happy Berry 2007 Newsletter
Your Fruit Connection

If you would like to be added to our email list please contact us . Typically the newsletter will be short and come out weekly during the harvest season [June to August] to let you what is happening. It also comes out once or twice in off season.

posted August 27, 2007

Farm operating on the Honor System

We have muscadine grapes and the bronze Early Fry and Janet are ripening nicely now. The Black muscadine variety Supreme has also started. We will be picking muscadines for 4 or so weeks... And I would list the picking as pretty good.

A muscadine should be soft when you pick it. We have some muscadines in the cooler. We also have Jacques grapes in the cooler and there are still some in the field. the Jacques is a small seeded dark blue very tasty grape that is both tart and sweet.

Blueberries are about done with picking time at least 2 hours per gallon. There are still some blackberries in the Prime Jim and Jan but I would list the picking as poor.

I walked by some fig trees today and would list them as fair. It has been terribly dry and that is impacting both size and maturity of figs.

Thanks for your support!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

PS - To help with the cash flow we will be doing farm tours this fall by appointment. Under 5 people it is $25 per hour and over 5 it $5 per head. We customize the tour to your desires in terms of what you want to learn. Groups of more than 15 to 20 should probably be split to insure adequate inner action. Contact us for more information.

posted August 16, 2007

Still Blueberries- Muscadines ready- Jacques ready
Honor System Begins

Beginning the week of August 16,2007 we are starting to use the Honor system. After you have picked your berries you weigh them on the scale to determine the pounds and multiply the pounds time the price per pound to figure what you owe.... then put the money in the "money here box" attached to the wall to the right of the scale. We will probably be around working in the field trying to catch up on weeding, training blackberries, mowing grass and other farm work.

Blueberries are still good ... scout to find the good bushes ... the berries are on the inside of bush.

Blackberries if any will be in the Prime Jim and Jan. If it cools there will be more. There are lots of green ones.

Figs are coming in ... remember to pick them with stem. If the stem is straight they are not ripe. If it is curved, even just a little it is ready. The Fig is climacteric... meaning it ripens after it is picked and and they will continue to ripen even in the refrigerator. That is why you rarely see a southern fig in the grocery store. It gets over ripe before they can market it.

Muscadines are started and should pick over the next month. You pick them one at a time. If it is not a little soft it is not ready. Muscadines like figs are very sweet and frequently over an inch in diameter. These are dessert varieties which have edible skins unlike wild ones and older varieties. If you have not tried one we suggest you do so. You won't be able to stop.

For the cooks amongst you the Jacques grapes are ready. They make great jam, jelly, pies or even wine. They will not last long in the field so you need to act now. We have 30 gallons picked in the cooler. If you want more picked call us. It is a dark blue, seeded grape that is both sweet and tart...

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

posted August 13, 2007

Still Blueberries- Muscadines ready- Jacques ready

Still blueberries but picking conditions have declined to fair to poor with good in spots. You will have to scout for them. Picking time per gallon is 1.5 hours plus. The heat and drought has been bad. Pray for rain! We will not have pre-picked blueberries

I missed the forecast of the Jacques maturing and we have been harvesting them and putting them in the cooler. They are great for jams, jelly and pies! They make an excellent wine too. You can harvest them too.

The desert muscadines are ready. Early Fry and Janet in the bronze. There are a few Black muscadines too. You know a muscadine is ready if it squeezes just a little. If it is hard... it is not ready. They are so sweet and the skin is crunchy.

The blackberries are poor and the prime Jim and Jan are not ripening in this heat. They might improve if it cools a little.

Elderberries about gone but still a few.

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

posted August 2, 2007

Still Lots of Blueberries

I was talking with several customers and they thought the picking was better than a few weeks ago. Although there are fewer berries on the bush, more of them are ripe, therefore you can get more at one time. Picking time per gallon remains about the same though as we time people in and out, or it is increasing slightly. It is time to get your berries now! They will start to decline soon and picking time per gallon will increase. There will be berries for you pick for several more weeks but pre-picked (ready-picked) berries will stop in a week or ten days depending on the pickers. We have increased what we are paying them to pick, because it takes longer, and you will see that reflected in the ready-pick prices.

The Jacques grapes are turning blue but ARE NOT READY YET. It will be August 20 before they are ready. The muscadines should start then too. The seedless table grapes, Venus, Mars Jupiter and Neptune are growing but it will be a couple of years before they are ready.

Figs are trickling along but we expect a big harvest in two to three weeks.

The blackberries are trickling along too. We are picking Chester, Prime Jan and Prime Jim. The Chester, as usual, has lots of red berries with the black ones mixed in. They do not all get ripe at the same time. We will have a lot more Chester berries next year. They are lower down on the plant. In contrast the prime Jim and Jan are right on top. Again they are mixed with lots of green and red berries. To get to the Prime Jan they are way in the far corner of the field.

See you in the berry fields!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

posted July 26, 2007

Peak of Blueberry Season Now
but Blueberries Will be Gone Soon

It is very good picking now in the blueberries and we have plenty of Pre-Picked blueberries now! If you have not put your berries up for the winter best to do so now. They are a little smaller this year but just as sweet as ever.

Some customers are finding a few figs in the tops of trees that escaped the Easter freeze but we do not expect bulk of them till the 15 th of August.

Do Not Pick the Jacques grapes till August 20; they are going through veraison now. That means they are turning blue but they are not ripe. We expect to see a few muscadines, like Early Fry, ripen in late August. There will be more this year than last. The new seedless grape plants [Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune] are growing and coming out the tops of the blue tubes. The blue tubes help train the plants, act as a green house and protect the baby plants from plant pharmaceuticals that control weeds.

We apologize for the blackberries. We lost 80% of them to the Easter freeze and they have been trickling along all summer at the “poor picking” level. The Prime Jan variety, all the way in the far corner, are beginning to ripen now. The Prime Jim has lots of green fruit and flowers and will be along later. All in all the picking is still poor but there is some out there. We have a few Chester plants and they are ripening now through August. We have added more Chester and Navaho plants. Navaho ripens in July.

We appreciate your support in this difficult year.

See you in the fields!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

posted July 12, 2007

Blueberries are “pouring” out of the Field
Harvest Conditions are Changing Every Day

Peak of season is coming for blueberries! Picking conditions are listed as good approaching excellent. Blueberry season will last until mid-August. We are picking all varieties at this time. It is muffin berry season in the Climax. Berries are small and meaty and are great in muffins and pancakes. The big plump berries are just too juicy in a muffin.

Elderberries are ripe and we will accept limited orders. The drought was very tough on the elderberries which are not irrigated because they grow along or over the stream bed which went almost dry. They drop their leaves in drought conditions.

Figs will be late we think. We are forecasting August 15, but we are not sure. We will keep you posted. The Jacques grapes [black, seeded sweet and with a nice sharp flavor] will ripen about August 20. They will turn blue shortly and BEFORE they are ripe [veraison] so do NOT pick them, as tempting as they may look. We will let you know when they are ready.

Muscadines should start about the same time. It will not be a big crop this year as the vines are young but there will be some.

There continues to be a few blackberries. In addition to Kiowas check out the Chester and Georgia Gem and Prime Jim and Jan.

We appreciate all of you so much!

See you in the fields! Walker
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

posted June 25, 2007

Thank you for your support!
Harvest Conditions are Changing Every Day

Blueberry and blackberry picking conditions have been poor. There are lots of blueberries but the rate of ripening has been slow but improving. Blueberries will continue to improve because you can’t stop Mother Nature …but she is slowed by the drought. The blackberries were hit hard by the Easter freeze, which has reduced the volume of berries, but folks are getting gallons and gallons of blackberries, mainly in the Kiowa and Chickasaw. Blackberries should continue for another week or two. We planted some late season Chester blackberries a year ago but quantity will be limited this year.

Figs will be a week or two later this year. We are estimating August 15. Elder berries should be in July. The Jacques grapes should come in about August 20. The muscadine grapes should also start about the same time. There will be no seedless table grapes this year as the plants are just babies. Maybe a taste next year.

Another issue is the size of the blueberries. The smaller berries are just as sweet and are probably even better for you as once-for-once they will be higher in antioxidants and the other goodies. The drought has reduced the size as well as the Easter freeze. The two determinants of berry size are seed number and the initial number cells formed after pollination. This drought started in April and except for a good soaking on May 13 rainfall has been in very small showers from a trace to no more than 1/3 inch for a total of about 3 inches since April 6. This has reduced number of cells in the berries. The freeze killed many of the seeds and we gibbed the berries [an organic procedure that helps them set] but it resulted in less seeds in the berry. The good news is there are lots of blueberries.

A big issue has been the drought at The Happy Berry. We have been watering but we are faced with a 24-hour clock problem. It takes time to get around to watering all the zones on the farm. Irrigation is not the same as a good rain. Irrigation is expensive too. Pray for rain.

Despite the poor picking conditions you have been coming out in droves and picking the berries. We thank you very much! It is folks like you that make local farming possible. We deeply appreciate your help with the harvest.

See you in the berry fields!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

posted June 12, 2007

Blackberries are In!
Harvest plans have changed & we are open Everyday Beginning Tues June 12

We are not keeping up with the blackberry harvest so we have decided to open every day starting Tuesday the 12 of June. We are picking a few Choctaw and Prime Jan and Prime Jim, Chickasaw, Georgia Gem and Kiowa. With the reduced crop everything seems to be coming on quicker.

Monday June 11 we got almost a 1/2-inch of rain, which brings us to just under an inch since the last of April. But we still need more- so keep thinking rain for us!

We have seen just few blue Premier blueberries but they seem to be coming on slow. There is good crop of Premier blueberries. Maybe the rain will help. We think there will be a few by this weekend. There will be some Climax but the big picking will be in the Tifblue, Powderblue and Centurion.

See you in the berry fields!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

emailed May 26, 2007

Harvest begins- Open June 2, 6, 9, 12
then Everyday Beginning June 15

We are excited! The harvest begins after a long winter of pruning and planting and building trellis and spring of hard work planting riparian buffers and other conservation measures. We have made lots of improvements and hope you like them.

Blackberries will begin on June 2, then we will close and open again on June 6, close again and open June 9, close again and open on June 12, close again and open on June 15. Beginning June 15, we will be open 7 days a week/back on our normally scheduled hours. The Blackberries were hurt by the Easter morning Freeze. This harvest procedure will let berries ripen between times so there are lots of berries when you come.

We anticipate that Blueberries will start about June 15, 2007 and a good crop is anticipated. We will not send out our usual blackberry surface mail card this year so if you know someone who wants blackberries, but does not get email, please tell them the scheduled we have planned. If we find we are not keeping up with the harvest we will send out an additional email note. Also for fiscal reasons the portable toilets will not be delivered till June 15. We will send a card announcing blueberry season.

As usual the grass is mowed and there will be plenty of ice water. We will have containers but love it when you bring yours.

With the limited crop availabiliy, we have had to make some price changes. Pick your own blue and black berries will be $1.75 per pound and pre-picked berries will be $18.00 dollars per gallon, $9.00 a half and $5 a quart. Figs, grapes and Elderberries will be $1.25 per pound you-pick and $3.50 per quart and $14 per gallon we-pick. If you are interested in buying bulk quantities, please contact Zoe, Walker or Ann.

Thank you so much for all your emails, and phone calls!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

emailed April 22, 2007

Cautiously Optimistic for Blueberries!

All your prayers and well-wishes, and a lot of work done by Dad!, have paid off! The details follow in a message from Dad below, but in a nutshell – we are cautiously optimistic to have saved around 70% of the anticipated blueberry crop! Thank you so much for all your emails, and phone calls! We have been truly awed and humbled by your response, and appreciate your concern.

Well the blueberries did not ALL shrivel up and fall off the bush! If everything stays, that appears “sound”, on the bush we could have 70 to 80 % fruit set and since a little thinning is good…. When I cut the berries I can see that many seeds are dead but I can find a few live seeds… all that is required is for the berry to mature. “Gibbing” apparently worked. We still have to go through May drop. We always lose a little bit of crop in May. It has never been clear to me why May drop occurs, but it does. Those of you who like the “Delight” blueberry --- it will be in short supply. The picture of flowers on the web sight is Delight and they were hurt the worse, especially in low areas. In higher locations it is apparently all right. If everything comes out okay it’s as close as we have ever come to a total wipe out in 25 years.

The grapes pictured on the web site, Jacques, are putting on new shoots and flowers. The figs still look as if someone took a blow-torch to them, especially the trees in low spots.

The advective freeze was hard on strawberry growers. They keep a layer of wet ice over the berries to protect them. The key words are wet ice. In windy conditions the patterns of the sprinklers are skewed especially if water is limited in supply and you can’t keep the ice wet.

Mr. T’s said he was hurt significantly. He is selling though and said there may be a slump for a few days and to call before going. Happy Cow said they were out for at least thirty days or more or it would be May 10 at the earliest. Rose Hill Plantation said they have strawberries but only pre-picked are available for now. Theirs are grown in a greenhouse so the freeze was not a factor for them.

Hunter Farms said they were hurt a little but there would be 70 to 80 % of a crop. Beachwood Farms is selling at local stands and at the farm in Marietta. Kevin Hardy at Hardy Berry Farm in Anderson said he lost about 5% and was looking at a good crop.

For strawberry grower contact information please see our web site or our first strawberry email.

Statewide the peach crop was devastated, the growers are saying they will be lucky if there is 10% of a crop.

Thank you so much for all your emails, and phone calls!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

emailed April 14, 2007

Easter Morning Freeze Strikes The Happy Berry

The late freeze, after such a warm early Spring, did significant damage to what had promised to be a bountiful crop. We are still assessing but it looks like we lost close to 90% of the blackberry blooms. It will be 10 to 12 days before we have a good idea of the damage to the blueberries- it could be anywhere from 25% to 75% loss. Opening day has been postponed to June 15. We will keep you posted as we watch the plants over the next few weeks.

For those of you who want the details:
During the spring the emerging shoots, fruit buds, flowers and developing fruit are the most susceptible to low temperature injury. We made it through the first two nights of “advective freezing conditions” without too much damage. An advective freeze occurs when it is windy, and is usually the type of freeze that is hardest to protect against. However, after making it through two nights of advective freezing conditions, local thermometers hit 23 degrees F on Easter Sunday. On Sunday morning there was little wind that, following a clear night, caused a radiational freeze to occur. During a radiational freeze the cold air sinks and settles to the lowest places on the farm. Because of our farm location, typically on a radiational freeze night, cold air from the mountains slides on to Lake Keowee and warmed air on Lake Keowee pushes up eastward over the farm, protecting us from heavy amounts of frost damage. We were not so lucky this year. While the thermometer at our house never went below 34 degrees, it was obviously colder at the farm, and the air over the lake had not warmed enough for the inversion effect to do the job. Combined with the warm weather we had the prior few weeks that had promoted all the new buds and flowers to open and bloom, it was the “perfect storm” of a late freeze.

(for more about avective and raditional freezing- see page 1 of a report by Dr. Paul Domoto, January 2006, on frost protection.)

Blackberries were severely damaged. All buds exposed had the ovule killed. This included the Choctaw, Jim and Jan, Chickasaw and Kiowa. There is usually a small secondary bloom. Varieties such as Georgia Gem, Chester and Navaho bloom later and appear to be okay. Although we have planted more of these later varieties they are just baby plants and will not have a crop on them this year. Bottom line we are thinking there will be maybe 10 to 15% of a blackberry crop. Normally we open around June 1 for Blackberries but this year we will not open till June 15, 2007.

Blueberries... we are hurt! How much is still "up in the air." We had a tremendous crop. We worked Monday and Tuesday gibbing, an organic procedure that triggers hormones in the berry that are normally released from live ovules and live seeds. A blueberry, which has hundreds of seeds, only needs a few to set. If we can get pass the death hormones (plant apoptosis) and the live seeds can function normally ....... 75%, 50% 25% ??? It will take 10 to 14 days or more to sort it out. We definitely will have some blueberries...The question is how much?...More later.

Fig foliage was “fried” and spring breba figs are gone. Figs are borne on the current seasons growth and if the trees are okay( I think they are) there will be a normal crop.

Elderberries do not seem to be hurt other than a few leaves burned. The Muscadines look okay too. They are normally late to leaf out. The big news is we planted table grapes (Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune) this past winter. They are seedless slip skin grapes. You will go “wow!” over the flavor when they begin to produce in a couple of years. When you come by this season you will see the baby plants sticking up out of their blue tubes that are used to train, protect, and provide a greenhouse effect.

Thank you for all your emails of concern. They are appreciated.
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

emailed March 28, 2007

We don’t do strawberries…but

The Happy Berry is forecasting opening day as June 1 for Blackberries and June 20 for Blueberries. At this writing it is a really heavy crop of blueberries… and that slows ripening down. In some years we have started blueberries June 15.

For those of you looking for strawberries-

The warm weather has been great for strawberry bloom. Most growers have started frost protecting and have done so 2 to 5 times or more. I have seen some seasons where frost protection had to be done 22 or 23 times. He who frost protects the earliest will be the first to come in and will have the longest harvest season. The dry weather has also been favorable so that growers do not have to worry so much about Botrytis control. Most fruit infections occur during bloom.

Mr “T”s Strawberries will be the first. Curtis Tilson is projecting April 6 as opening day. He said to call first [864638 8093] but that he already had a few pink ones so was pretty confident. His place 1.5 miles north of the traffic light in West Union on Route 11. His hours are 8 to 8 Monday thru Friday and 8 to 4 on Saturday. Website .

Kevin Hardy at Hardy berry Farm reports that he will be second with an opening day of April 12. To check call 864 224 5441. They located near the west side of Anderson at 232 Strawberry Rd. Go west on Dobbins Bridge Rd off of by-pass Route 28 [If you are headed east it is after you pass Highway 24]. Go 3.5 miles and turn left on to Strawberry Road. They are open 8 to 8 PM and 8 to 6 PM Saturday. Web site

Billy Ledford at Beechwood Farm is forecasting opening day as April 15. To check call 864 836 6075. They are located near Marietta SC 29661 at 102 Beechwood Rd. They are open Monday thru Saturday from 7:30 to 7 PM. No web site or email.

Eric Hunter at Hunter Farms is forecasting April 20 as opening Day. To check call 864 859 2978. Eric Hunter is located between Easley and Dacusville or off of 183 between Pickens and Greenville. If you are headed east on Route 183 once you past the four-way stop at Route 135 you can turn right on Jameson Rd. If you are coming out of Easley on 135, about 1 mile or so look for signs on the right that will take you to Jameson road. or visit

Tom Tratham at Happy Creamery said he would be last as he does not frost protect. To check on picking call 864 243 4801. They are located south of Greenville near Ware Shoals. Web site

For more information on other local farms - check out our Links to Local Farms

We’ll keep you updated on the harvest to come!
Walker for the Happy Berry Bunch

The Happy Berry, Inc.
Mailing Address Only: 120 Kelley Creek Road
Farm Address-No Mail Receptacle: 510 Gap Hill Road
Six Mile, SC 29682
Phone: (864) 868-2946
Farm: (864) 350-9345