Low expectations

Justin Dickie
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Inconsistency has blueberry growers hoping for an average harvest

AMHERST - Blueberry growers in this area will fare better than most if they can yield an average crop this year.

Low expectations

AMHERST - Blueberry growers in this area will fare better than most if they can yield an average crop this year.

Steve Gibson of Hawkes Blueberries said a long pollination period due to inconsistent weather, a mild January, a lack of snow and a colder than normal spring have caused blueberries to ripen inconsistently in different areas, making it difficult for growers to decide when to start picking.

"We're looking at an average season. And, actually, we're probably fortunate in this area because average is not too bad because some areas are going to have some very, very poor crops," Gibson said.

Hawkes Blueberries started picking in Oxford Friday and hope to be up and running in Westmorland County, where most of their land is, before the end of this week.

Jim Hoeg, president of Hoeg Farms Ltd., figures his land will yield about 80 per cent of an average crop, but that's up from last year.

Hoeg said in an average year, Nova Scotia produces 40 to 42 million pounds of blueberries. Approximately 30.6-million pounds were harvested last year.

Hoeg Farms starts picking today, a of couple weeks behind schedule.

"Our area around here seems to be not too bad," Hoeg said. "The crops are very inconsistent."

George Collins, owner of GE Collins and Sons Ltd., said his crops on Canaan Mountain look a lot better than any others he's seen this year, but couldn't say how close to average they'd be until the berries are picked. He plans to start harvesting on Tuesday.

"Our crop is good. We can't complain," Collins said. "Then again we haven't picked it yet, either. Many variables can happen. We could have a real hot and dry spell. I'm more worried this year about getting heavy rains or sleet or a hailstorm, something like that. That could be a disaster to a crop, but hopefully that won't happen."



jdickie@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Hoeg Farms

Geographic location: Oxford, Westmorland County, Nova Scotia Canaan Mountain

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