June 30, 2011 by wcobserver
Family Fun Activity Suffers From Uncharacteristic Weather
By Max McCarthy
This week should be the prime of the short blueberry season when families visit blueberry farms and pick their own berries. However, farmers across the county agree that this year’s uncharacteristic weather has reduced the amount of blueberries on the bushes in northwest Arkansas.
Marlin Wallace of Blue Heaven Farm, who has a 12-acre patch of 15,000 blueberry plants in Goshen, said that their harvest was down at least 50-percent from last year. He believes that the contributing factors weren’t just this past month’s floods, but thought it started last fall. The 2010 fall was very hot and dry; then the winter was very cold, frosting the plants; then his farm suffered water damage from the recent floods.
The weather not only affected blueberries, but whatever was on the bush at the time, according to Warren Pense of Bramble Berry Farm in Winslow. He grows many different types of plants for the purpose of propagation and sells the plants worldwide. He believes that the blueberries will recover, but it will be the raspberries, strawberries, and tomatoes that really suffer this year.
Les Dozier of Sta-n-Step Blueberry Farm said that the bad news for blueberries may have started as early as 2007. He thinks there may be a cycle that the blueberries go through and thought that this would naturally be a bad year for blueberries because 2010 was such a good year.
But don’t despair, some farms say that despite the damage, they still have enough blueberries to make an adequate harvest and are still letting people pick their own berries.
Here is a list of nearby “you-pick-em” farms that will be open between now and the first week of July.
Blue Heaven Farm –
Charge: $12 per gallon to pick yourself, $15 for already picked
Open: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday – Saturday
Sta-n-Step Blueberry Farm –
Charge: $12 per gallon to pick yourself
Open: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
Wild Things Farm –
Location: Fort Smith
Charge: $1.60 a pound (approximately $10 per gallon)
Open: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday – Saturday