Harvest Winds Down Around State
AUBURN, JULY 26---Most
blueberry growers across the state are wrapping up their harvests
for the season. Though growers in north Alabama suffered a late
freeze that destroyed most of their crop, most farmers in south and
central Alabama enjoyed quality harvests.
Frank Randle, who grows
5 acres of blueberries in Lee County, shut his operation down
Saturday. He’s been harvesting berries since mid-May and says he
couldn’t have asked for a better season.
He says he has
especially appreciated his large crop this year since last year’s
berries succumbed to the drought.
"We had an
excellent harvest," says Randle. "We had no problems,
which was great compared to last year. Everything’s been great
Brewton, one of the
state’s blueberry hotspots, also turned in a strong harvest. Heavy
rains in early June cost commercial growers a few berries early into
the harvest, says Randy Akridge, superintendent of the
Brewton/Monroeville Experiment Stations.
"It was still a
good crop though," he says. "It was a big crop – much
better than last year."
Some counties in central
and north Alabama weren’t so lucky.
"We were cleaned
out by a late freeze," says Tom Farrow, Clay County Extension
coordinator. "Some of the homeowners may have harvested a few
blueberries, but the commercial growers don’t really have
Most people harvest
their blueberries between June and August, depending on the variety
of berry they’re growing and the location of the state they’re
in, says Farrow.
Dr. David Himelrick, an
Extension horticulturist, says most of the state’s commercial
growers try to harvest as early as possible. "Prices are better
earlier in the season, before North Carolina, New Jersey and
Michigan begin selling their blueberries," he says. "They
also sell better at U-Picks earlier in the summer before it gets too
hot for customers to enjoy picking."
Most of the blueberry
acreage in Alabama is small and scattered across the state, says
Himelrick. Commercial growers usually sell to local grocery stores
or individuals. Many homeowners grow blueberries as well.
"They’re one of
the easiest things to grow," he says. "You can even
usually grow them without spraying them (with crop protectants), so
they’re really good for homeowners."
July 26, 2001