Monday, June 11, 2018

Red, Black and Blues!

Nova Raspberries 6.11.18

Reds are In

The raspberries look like the sun has brought them out of their green state.  We need more rain and lots of water; I believe we're experiencing a drought right now.  However, you can see from the picture that they're still trying to give us a crop.

Not only are the Nova raspberries ripe, the Royalty are just beginning.  I'm not sure if you've seen the purple berries that look like a flour de lis, but you can tell that they are true "royalty" when you make the connection!  They are Les' favorite raspberry.  He thinks they taste like Dr Pepper.

We also have a berry that is Burgundy when ripe that is called a Wye berry.  I'm not sure if I've spelled that correctly, but it's supposed to be a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry.  They're pretty yummy as well and about as big as a large blackberry.  Just make sure they're dark Burgundy when picked!

Natchez Blackberries

Blacks Begin!

Tomorrow, June 12th, will be our first picking of the blackberries.  Last year we had a couple of different varieties of blackberries, but Les took out the Ouachita blackberries and only has the Natchez now.  They are good producers and are really large sweet berries.

We only have these berries in our top patch - up the hill behind our house, so head up the hill if you want to pick the blacks.

I don't expect there will be that many gallons ready to pick tomorrow.  You can see there are more red than black.  However, we have 3 long rows of the blackberries so there will be at least 6 gallons, I would imagine.

Blues Abound!

I didn't take a picture of the blueberries this morning, but nearly all of our varieties have blue on them today.  I think even the Ozark Blue had a couple of blues here and there on them; they finish up our season around July 4th to 10th.  So, there should be good picking this week in a variety of places.  

The Duke variety is close to finished, but whatever is left on this variety should be looking really blue.  Their berries decline in size with each picking, so they are small at this stage, but would make great muffin berries.

If you have a day to come out and feel the sun, the breeze, and hear the cries of birds flying by, head on out!  Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, 7 to noon is the plan!  As you pick you can think with me - "God is good.  All the time!"  We are so blessed to enjoy the blessings of life on the farm.  See you soon!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sunny days!

Duke Blueberries 6.3.18

 Duke Days. . .

Well, we were open yesterday for blueberry picking on just the Duke variety (since nothing else was ripe).  Here you can see a couple of pictures of the blueberries after the picking.  Can you tell that we didn't have enough people picking?

Since there are so many that are blue on this variety, we are planning to open up on Monday night, June 4th, from 5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. and get an extra slot of picking in.

I made it out to pick some berries after the customers left yesterday and found a few clouds to cover me and a light breeze to keep me cool.  It was some nice picking!  Entire clusters at points are ready to just fall into the bucket.
Closeup of Duke

I also put my niece and hired hands to work helping me pick berries.  It's great to have a little competition going.  They were comparing their levels and trying to see who could pick the fastest.

The sunny, warm days are bringing the rest of the crop into ripeness as well.  Today I looked right next to this variety and noticed that the Top Shelf, Blue Ribbon and Pimlico varieties are turning blue.  That means the Bluejay and the Blue ray will probably also be turning this week and ready to pick by Saturday.

Sweet summertime!  I love this life of warm days, cool breezes here and there and berries to pop in my bucket.

God is good - all the time!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Heat Popping Blues!

Early Blue Variety

Duke variety on the top of hill (by the house)
Well, the 90 degree weather is making the Duke variety pop out the blues.  I picked a handful this afternoon and they're tasting pretty good.  We had thought that the late freeze would make the berries hold off on ripening until mid-June, but these 90 degree temps and high heat index numbers are popping the blue right out!
Duke Blueberries 5.28.18

We're planning to be open on Saturday morning 7.2.18 for picking on this variety of blueberries.  We don't have that many rows of Duke, but there's enough for a few people to pick.  There are 3 half rows in the valley and 4 rows up the hill by the house so there should be several gallons there by Saturday to start the season off!

So - see you soon picking the Duke!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sunny Days - Rainy Afternoons

Well, I walked through the fields last night and took my normal shortcut through the blueberries, to the raspberries and across the wire trellis to the blackberries.  I thought I could handle that move just fine - I have done it for years.  However, this time the wire trellis caught my foot and I fell to the ground and did a big roll toward the blackberries.

I told Les that I'm going to have to give up crossing that wire trellis.  I'm liable to break my hip the next time I try crossing it!  Thankfully I'm fine, although I did find a small tick on my arm when I went in the house!  I guess tick season is here.

Flowering Natchez Blackberries 5.23.18

You can see that the blackberries are growing and looking big.  If we keep having the sunny, warm weather and the good rains it will move them upwards in size and maturity.

I think it will be a large crop this year, but to tell the truth the blackberries have really been a big producer for the last few years.  They aren't having any problems at all.
Duke Blueberries 5.23.18

The blueberries are growing in size, but still green.  I think the first variety may be ready to pick in about 10 days, but it depends on the heat and the rains that we get in the next few days.

I noticed that some of the berries have little whiskers sticking out of their middle.  A few years ago we had a large part of our crop have the little whiskers sticking out and with our late freeze, I think it may have to do with where they were in the flowering stage when the freeze came.

Perhaps part of the flower remained and the stamens are stuck in that center spot.  I'll try to grab a picture of some berries that show that more clearly.

Nova Raspberries 5.23.18
The raspberries are getting larger.  There are still some that are blooming, but you can tell that some berries are set and beginning to grow.  It doesn't look like there will be a big crop of these Nova raspberries.  However, there are some.  I guess you have to count your blessings where you can!

We have a purple variety of raspberries called "Royalty" that look healthier and more vigorous.  Les thinks that they will have a good crop this year, but it is different than the normal look for a raspberry.  It's shaped like a heart and is purple when ripe.  They're also a later berry than the Nova and typically don't ripen until we've been picking berries for a few weeks.

So, God is good - all the time!  I'm thankful I didn't break my hip while crossing the wire trellis and thankful that I saw the tick crawling up my arm.  It's wonderful to have any kind of crop so I can look forward to good days ahead.  See you soon!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May Update

Blueray variety of blueberries 5.16.18

A Rainy May-Day!

I thought you might like to see the progress of the berries toward the ripening stage.  I believe the cold weather and late freeze has slowed the berries so that we are looking at an opening of the fields around the middle of June.  This is a little later than normal, but it's to be expected with the cold temperatures that we had.

The variety shown to the left is one that we've had a long time.  It produces a large sweet berry and somehow is still thriving and doing well - even after 25 years of being planted.  Some of our other plants we've replaced, but this one is actually an old planting on our property.

We can see this group of rows from our patio window and often see bunny rabbits bouncing around under the plant bushes or deer grazing in the newly planted field next to it.

Duke variety of blueberries

Just a few years ago, we planted an acre with several new variety of plants and picked on those rows for the first time last season.  The variety you see to the right is an early producer and ripens early in the season.  Les placed a kid-friendly swingset and tower right in front of it, so parents of young children really like picking berries in front of these plants.

The Duke variety is the starter of our season - usually ripening by June 5th and is a mild berry.  It is never sour at all!  It's nice to see how they've grown in the last year and how pretty and green everything is after the rain we had today!

Pimlico variety

Les added a row of Pimlico blueberries and hasn't been very happy with this variety.  The size is always really small - about the size you would want in a blueberry muffin.  Most people seem to prefer picking large berries - the bucket fills faster with the big berries.

Another problem with this variety is that that birds swoop down and easily take off with the crop.  Somehow, we don't find many after they turn blue.  You can see we really do have berries, though!

Blackberries Blooming

Blackberries 5.16.18

The blackberries are looking like they will have another large crop this year.  You can see the blooms are still on, but some of the blooms have fallen and turned into little green berries, so they are beginning their way toward a summer crop.

This variety is our largest variety - the Natchez - and can produce a berry as big as a person's thumb.  They are easy to pick and may take about 10 minutes to pick a gallon when the season is going strong.

Since they are large, the seeds are also large so you may have to strain some seeds if you're sensitive to large seeds.  Otherwise they have a great sweet taste and are wonderful in blackberry jelly and jam.

Nova Raspberries

Raspberries in Decline

Our Nova variety of raspberries have really suffered and don't look like they will bear many berries this year.  You can see that some are still in bloom and are just beginning to form berries.

This seems so late to me.  Last year I was beginning to pick raspberries at this time, so I guess they're at least 2 to 3 weeks later than normal.  It's so sad; raspberries are my favorite berry!

Les thinks we may need to take out the nova and do a replanting of different stock next year.  They've begun a decline in production which can happen with old root stock.  

Thankfully, our purple raspberries - the royalty - seem to be performing well and looking like they're going to have a good crop.  Maybe I can look forward to those raspberries!

Well, I think you've got a glimpse of all 3 types of berries we have on the farm.  I'll check back in with an update soon.  Until then, enjoy the rainy days along with the warm, balmy weather.

God is good - all the time!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Surviving the Late Freeze!

April 16 - 4:00 a.m.  - 24 Degrees!

Valley Patch - Duke blueberries
We are blessed beyond measure this year.  On the morning of April 16 when the temperature plummeted, we were pretty sure that we had lost our crop.  The berries were in bloom and at least the first couple of varieties were in a full bloom state.

However, instead of turning brown and falling off to leave nothing to pick, the blooms stayed on and we now have green berries forming.

Blooming blueberries, late April, 2018
Because of the cold temps in the spring, our crop is running late.  Usually the raspberries are beginning to ripen right now and at this point in mid May, they've barely begun to form.

With warm temperatures on the way, we are expecting to have berries to pick around the middle of June.

For now, we are just dancing and happy that there will be a crop. In 2007, the late freeze destroyed the whole crop and we didn't have a harvest that year.  Wouldn't you know that it was the year our oldest daughter had a destination wedding in Jamaica?

Thankfully, it looks like we will have a crop this year.  The first variety - Duke - is a little thin, but there are berries on that variety as well as the other varieties.

God is good - all the time!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Spring Has Sprung!

Well, we can tell with the recent spring rainfall that our blueberries are plumping up and seeming really happy for all the water.  

The Blueray variety of blueberries in this picture to the left even seems to have an underlying blue hue today as the sun comes out to declare that it's springtime and that summer is on the way!

The berries have almost finished with their blooms; there are a few late blooms out there, but most have turned from bloom into little green berries with the leading berries getting bigger.

It seems to look like a normal season with our first ripe blueberries (Duke) ripening the first week of June and then the other varieties following it through June and into the first week of July.

We really were slammed with rain this last weekend, getting almost 5 inches of rain Friday night and into Saturday morning.  Les drove down to the valley several times to see if his hay barn was under water.  Thankfully it didn't quite get high enough to put the hay underwater.  You can see a good picture of his finger in the bottom left of the picture.

The bumblebees and honey bees have been busy out in the field.  As I snapped pictures in the field, the bees were almost bumping into me.  We're looking forward to seeing a good crop come to harvest!