Monday, August 31, 2009

Seventh-Inning Stretch

Picking picked up on Sunday, almost 400 lbs were picked. Had a month's worth of rain in 24 hrs (about 3.5") on Fri./Sat. Picking should be ok this week still and if those smaller bushes that are loaded with berries ripen by the weekend, then that should be our last hurrah. We'll see.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

no change

maybe this weekend it will be better??? Sorry, no way of knowing when these berries will get ripe. Picking will be decent when they do get ripe. if not this coming weekend, then labor day...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A watched berry never ripens.

Unless you are desperate to pick, I would stay home. Rate of ripening is about equal to the meager picking (100 lbs/day right now), so we seem to be gaining no ground. Wish there was a way to close for a week or so, but inevitably when we try, we get people showing up and pleading to pick. There are still some bushes loaded with berries, but they need some time and sun (got a lot of water yesterday).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

State of Ripeness Still Weak

I did not assess this myself, but got a couple of expert opinions and it looks like the field is below 50% ripe, probably in the 25-35%. Certainly good enough for picking a couple of pies worth of berries, but not enough to warrant coming from a long distance picking all day for a year's worth of supply. I wish I could tell you when the unripe will become ripe, but I can't.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Picking Doldrum

Well, the picking was fast and furious on Saturday. Slowed considerably on Sunday, and it looks pretty slow out there tonight (Monday). It was taking 2-3 hours to fill an ice cream pail, which is almost 4 times longer than it took on Saturday morning (when the blueberries were practically jumping in people's buckets). If you are just looking a pie's (or two) worth, sure, come on out and pick. Otherwise wait.

I am outta town Wednesday & Thursday, and my family lacks the decisiveness to make up a statistic that indicates the proportion ripe and how the picking might be.

I'll try to get an assessment in the morning Friday and update this report.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Opening Day Report

We opened EARLY on Saturday, August 15, 2009. First pickers arrived under the cover of darkness and hit the fields at 5:50 am! Heard they used flashlights to pick until the sun was a up, a half hour or so later. As crazy as that seems, I think it was even crazier to be picking at mid day. Felt like death valley (if death valley was loaded with blueberries) out there. I wasn't picking but was sharing in the experience working on repairing the greenhouse, so I guess I am labeled as crazy, too.

First group of 3 pickers (Joni Barron et al.) to hit the scales picked 30 lbs or so in an hour. Tim Barney in his wife (also of Chassell) and another companion registered the biggest load at 76 lbs. Can't really say that they were the top group because others list their harvest individually. Nevertheless, any amount reported in 10s of lbs is a lot of berries!

Only one casuality to report, a picker ran into a bald-face wasp nest. The bush with the nest is loaded with berries, so I haven't sprayed it, just cordened it off and awaiting a cool night, when the wasps are more sluggish, and will snip it off and toss somewhere in the woods.

Pigs report a lot of people stopping to gander at them, prompting them to ask, "Haven't these people seen a pig before?" Well I explained to them that they are attractive pigs, especially the gilt (female) who sports near perfect natural (birth spots) eyeshadow on both eyes. Sheep and llamas were miserable in the heat. They are looking forward to the cooler weather, too.

I toured the fields this a.m. and amazed at how clean it looks, completely litter free. Still lots of berries, but you will have to be more "surgical" in your picking, as all the big clumps of ripe berries were harvested by those who showed on opening day, but that is why they come then, eh.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 Opening Day is Saturday, August 15

Ripening progress is now rapid, and we WILL open on Saturday, August 15!

The patch nearest the berry bldg/Klingville Rd., which we usually try to reserve for those who can't make the hike to the other fields, is practically devoid of berries, so forgo that patch.

The small bush variety, which comprise the northern most 3 rows on the long middle patch are still unripe (completely). Who knows when they will be ready. The higher (more out of control) varieties) in this middle field are the furthest ripe. The so-called "back field," which is furthest from Klingville Road, is a bit more hit or miss and fewer berries than last year.

Should have locally grown honey available Saturday, too. Ask at the house. We haven't harvested our honey yet, but the stuff for sale is produced just a few miles from our farm, by the Pines (Colling's) Farm on Boundary Road.

Same price, same conditions. Good luck. Keep an eye out for hornets. We still haven't found any nests, which only means they are somewhere, deep in bushes or in the ground. Let us know so we can mark the area to keep out unsuspecting pickers.

by the way, if you have a facebook account, you can become a fan of the Gierke Blueberry Farm on Facebook and receive updates more rapidly.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ripening progress visible every day

Berries are making regular progress in ripening now. It looks like about half of the bushes will be ready to pick by Saturday, Aug. 15, maybe even a day or two earlier. The smaller bushes (and berries), which tend to ripen later may not be ready right away, but we will open nonetheless so you can get started on what is ripe. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Ripening Progress

Ripening has made a lot of progress since wednesday. Still none of the varieties are better than about 50% ripe (in a given bush), but many bushes jumped from 30 to 50% ripe since Wed. Got a great rain last night, which we needed badly. It has been warm and humid during the last few days, which should also help. Outlook for picking on the 15th is good. Hopefully I didn't just jinx it.

For those who have picked here often, this appears to be our latest year. To put it in a temperature perspective, let's look at growing degree days. In 2005-2007, we experienced at least 1200 growing degree days by this time each year, and in all of those years we opened by the first of August. Last year (2008), we opened in Aug. 9th, after 830 growing degree days. This year, as of today, we are at 700. I don't know how many it takes, but obviously we are a bit behind. Everybody with a garden already knows this.

Here is the website where one can look at historical temperature, precipitation, etc.:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Delaying Opening

Went through the fields carefully on Wed. evening, Aug. 4. Still less than half ripe. We are going to delay the opening, probably by a week (maybe opening Aug. 15). Keep checking for updates, especially starting Aug. 10.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Second thoughts, may delay opening a week

Went through the patch thoroughly today, Tues., Aug. 4. Still less than 50% ripe. Having 2nd thoughts about opening this Sat.. Worried that we are going to have to delay the opening. A couple of guys from the Farm Service Agency (part of the USDA) checked the crop for our insurance policy and they have a systematic approach to estimating the crop. They estimate it at about 6000 lbs, which is about the average. Last year's crop was over 10,000 lbs, similar to the summer of 2005. Crops in 2006 & 2007 were in the 2000-3000 lb range. We will decide Thursday about Saturday.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Getting closer, still not ready

Field check on Saturday, Aug. 1st: fewer than 20% of the berries are ripe. No single bush is ripe yet, many are not ripe at all. Decent quantity it seems, should have at least a couple of weeks of picking, once ripe. The EARLIEST we MIGHT open is Saturday, Aug. 8th, but may be later if the berries don't hustle their ripening. Still could use some rain, eh.