Saturday, September 13, 2014

Picking Conditions Mid September

Picking conditions are great in the middle patch. Still great in the wide row in the middle, between the solar array and Klingville Road. You can find good picking in most of the middle patch and a few bushes in the back and front. Those late-ripening varieties in the middle-patch rows nearest the pasture are still quite unripe, but elsewhere it is about as good as it is going to get. The rain knocked a lot of overripe berries off the bushes. We had almost 3" of rain Wednesday in less than 24 hrs, but no worse for the wear.

Not many pickers during the work week, so it is quite quiet most of the time. Evenings are the most pleasant, although quite chilly (and damp) as of late.

Weather conditions

Wondering what the temperature, wind, and humidity conditions are at the farm? If you are familiar with metric units, or at least how to convert them to more familiar units, you can check on meteorological conditions at the farm collected every 15 minutes, uploaded to the internet ever two hours, and available over the past day, week, and month at: Prefer reports in Fahrenheit? The hobolink data is also published on Cold this weekend, either way you look at it.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Final Tally for the Fundraiser, Remaining Open the Rest of the Month

Unofficial tally is just under 2500 lbs for the weekend.  GREAT JOB COMMUNITY!  We are really pleased with the turnout and the great job that Baraga County Shelter Home and Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home did in terms of publicity and expertly staffing the facilities.  We are even more pleased with all of you who came out and picked.  We realize the conditions were challenging and we are proud of all of you for persevering and making this weekend a success. 

We are going to celebrate by staying open every day (daylight hours) the rest of the season.  We are not going to be around full time every weekend and most weekdays, so please come prepared with correct change (or check) and your own containers.  Should have good picking by the end of the week.  There will be some opening-day like picking in early October.  We will post when see the late-season varieties turn blue.

We have to catch up on some mowing, too, so it won't be quiet here all the time.  I also want to get some tractor time in on the weeknights.  Weather permitting work during the weeknights, we will keep things quiet on the weekends, at least Sundays.

Pulling the irrigation pump from the well on Saturday for some maintenance.  You might notice some extra equipment and some piping on the weekend (hopefully).

Thanks, again, everyone.  --John & Lynn


The first day of the fundraiser was great! Over 1600 lbs of blueberries were weighed in yesterday (Saturday).  Today, the 2nd and final day of the fundraiser to benefit the local shelter homes, will experience pleasant weather and almost certainly less crowded picking.  Pickers will find good picking mainly in the long middle patch, where the solar array is, furthest from the parking.  It is always the best strategy to spend some time scouting the fields and finding bushes that have been ignored.  Lift up the hanging branches and peak inside, you will likely be rewarded for your efforts.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Re-Opening Today

Re-opening Today (Friday, Aug. 29) at noon and will be open through Sunday, Aug. 31. Closed Monday-Friday next week, in advance of the fundraiser.

3rd Annual Fundraiser to Benefit the Local Shelter Homes

Monday, August 25, 2014

Temporarily Closed Again

We are going to continue our pattern of closing Monday through Thursday or so, re-opening on Friday (maybe) or Saturday (certainly) and stay open on Sunday and, maybe, Labor Day, depending on how the crop looks and the amount harvested (both are unpredictable).  I will update about Friday on Thursday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Re-opening Thursday.

I checked the patch this evening and it appears like there is some good picking conditions in the middle patch, near the solar array. So we are going to re-open tomorrow (Thursday). We will remain open through Sunday and re-evaluate conditions then and potentially close for a few days next week.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

2014 Opener

For those of you who only follow our blog, I apologize for not announcing the opener on the blog.  Sorry.  We opened today. Just over a thousand pounds harvested today, Pretty impressive picking by a modest and considerate crowd. We attended a wedding this afternoon and returned too late to assess the remaining crop. I imagine there are ripe berries to pick in the thicker rows, which usually see less attention. We will be open Sunday for those who want to enjoy the nice weather and quiet. We will be CLOSED starting Monday and continuing through Friday, re-opening Saturday. We might end up closing again after the weekend to give the blueberries another round of ripening.
We'll make the call next Sunday. Houghton County Fair next weekend, so make sure you get out for that. There are many berries to ripen, so do not despair if you can not get out next weekend.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

When? Growing Degree Days

As I have written about before, the most often questions asked of this farm are: How is the crop going to be this year?, and When will be able to pick?  Natural questions deserve natural answers, but we can’t characterize nature well enough to answer these questions precisely.  Crop abundance and quality is mostly affected by pollination and precipitation, and pollination is affected by temperatures during blossoming.  “When” is primarily affected by temperature.  After blueberries blossom and are pollinated, the berries and mature (to size), then ripen.  How long the growing, maturation, and ripening takes is not well quantified or understood with respect to environmental variables, hence why forecast tables use large windows of likelihood: “high-bush blueberries usually ripen from late July to mid August.” Ripening varies for different varieties and we see ripening that extends into September most years for some rows of our bushes. 

Although we do not understand the rate of maturation and ripening fully, we can track some variables, like temperature, in a way that helps us guestimate when the bushes might be ready for picking. One method commonly used by farmers and horticulturists is called “growing degree days” (GDD), which is calculated as the sum of the difference between mean daily temperature (i.e., average of the maximum and minimum temperature for the day) and a “base” temperature, which corresponds to a temperature below which there is not much growing/ripening happening (typically 50 F (10 C). See, and references cited therein for more information about GDD and crops. I am not aware of anything specific for blueberries.  If you come across something, I would appreciate your sharing it.

Below is a table that lists our opening dates for the span since we have owned this farm and the GDDs as of the opener using temperatures recorded and GDDs calculated for the Houghton County Airport. A couple things to note: GDDs is not a precise predictor, it is an indication; and the data is from Houghton County Airport and farm climate can be quite different than the airport. The GBbF weather station has not collected data for a full growing season yet. Another thing to note is that we open in mid August over half the time. End-of-July/early-August openers are less often and typically for only very warm years. 

GBbF Opening Days and Growing Degree Days Calculated based on Temperatures Recorded at the Houghton County Airport. (Data and calculations from
Opening Date
Opener GDDs at HCA (
787 (as of August 1)
August 17
July 28
August 13
July 31
August 15
August 9
August 1
July 24
July 29

We are HOPEFUL that we can open August 16 this year!