Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blossom-time Post for 2014

Each region seems to have its own "signs" for the starts of seasons. For example, at the GBbF, the first sign of spring is when the llamas break out of their pen in vain attempts to browse the slightest grass sprouts appearing where snow has melted. 

The first sign of summer for us is the start of phone calls checking on the blueberry situation. The first call usually comes from Joann in Crystal Falls, which occurred this past weekend. But others follow soon after, and Joe from Iron Mountain called the day after. Well, Joann, Joe, and others, the bushes have fully blossomed, as of about a week or so ago, and blossoms are hanging onto a few bushes, probably because of the cool temperatures. 

We will fuel optimism with an unquantifiable claim that there were lots of blossoms. But there always are, it seems. Lots of blossoms are necessary but insufficient. The blossoms need proper conditions for pollinators to do their business, and it helps if there are lots of pollinators. Conditions (i.e., temperatures) can be quantified but pollinator populations can't. We try to hedge our bets and boost the pollinator numbers by raising honeybees, but our hive inventory is paltry compared to the number of bushes. Luckily, there are more types of wild pollinators than you can shake a stick at, and we saw many in the fields, although not as many butterflies (usually Eastern Yellow Swallowtails) as we normally see. 

A dose of reality: temperatures have been cool. Long-term forecasts, for what they are worth, are for colder-than-average temperatures. Temperatures are important for growing and ripening the berry themselves. The cool temps do not bode well for an early (or even an average) opener.

We are anticipating a later opener, like last year, middle of August. Too early to make bets or to request vacation days, so stay tuned for updates in July.