Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blueberry pickin'

It was a nice overcast Sunday. Not too hot, not too cold. Samantha and I drove out to Libby & Son blueberry farm for a little pickin'.

Maine is the blueberry capitol and the wild plants that collectively amount to 60,000 acres love Maine's acid, rocky soil. Wild blueberries grow on what are called "low bush". You'll probably see prices higher this year due to our unusually wet weather which produces "Valdensinia Leaf Spot", a fungus that effects the growth cycle for next year's crop. These bushes must be burned to eradicate the fungus, since it will linger on dead leaves and recurs next year at harvest time.


Our mission this day was to pick from "high bush" plants on a cultivated farm in Limerick. Libby's farm consists of 8,500 bushes of about 5 different varieties of "high bush". Since each variety ripens at a different time, we can continue to pick into early October.


The berries ripen in clusters like grapes, but not all at once. Within a short time you learn to just roll the cluster gently in your fingers and the ripest berries will fall into your hand..... nothing to it.






Within about an hour and a half our total take was 16 pounds and that's what you see here. As you enter the picking fields through the sales barn, attendants weigh your container and write the weight on the outside. When checking out, they subtract the container weight to get your true blueberry purchase. Price is $2.50 per pound.


My 5 1/2 pounds filled a gallon and a quart sized zip-lock bag which I have frozen. I'll plan to go again later in the season just to make sure I'll have enough to last through winter. It feels a lot like gathering nuts for winter.





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