Mother Nature uses her pull

Raissa Tetanish
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Blueberry farmers see slow start to season

FORT LAWRENCE - Mother Nature plays a big part in blueberry season, and growers are feeling the impact this season.

Mother Nature uses her pull

FORT LAWRENCE - Mother Nature plays a big part in blueberry season, and growers are feeling the impact this season.

"Things are very slow because Mother Nature has not cooperated," said Steve Gibson from Hawkes Blueberries. "Everything was coming along good but because we haven't seen the sun in the last couple of weeks, things just stopped."

Wednesday was the first harvesting day for some growers in the area, including Gibson and Jim Hoeg, from Hoeg Farms Ltd.

"(The rain) has kind of set back the ripening on the green ones and a lot of the big ones are splitting," said Hoeg.

"We had a good pollination at the first of the season on the blossom and everything looked pretty good. Then we had a dry spell, which may have had some affect on the ripening."

Gibson says the pollination wasn't quick this year, causing some early fruit to ripen.

"Some of them are starting to fall off because they ripened before the rest."

Looking up from loading containers onto a pick-up truck, Gibson has to turn another customer away because the blueberries aren't at his Fort Lawrence warehouse just yet. The fresh market line-up should be underway today, and Gibson's hoping to have blueberries ready for customers by the weekend.

"People want them now. As soon as they see a few people picking blueberries, they assume everybody is," he said, adding his crops stretch from Oxford to Springhill, Southampton and as far as Memramcook and Dorchester.

"Seventy per cent of my blueberries are in Westmorland County."

For Truemanville blueberry farmer Aubrey Atkinson, the season should kick off with some harvesting this weekend. He, too, hasn't been out on account of the weather.

But for Atkinson, pollination this season turned out well, thanks to 40 hives of honeybees.

For the past two decades Atkinson's been renting the bees as a way of increasing production.

"By the looks of the fruit, the bees have done their work," he said.

Although the season has started at a slow pace, the farmers all feel the blueberries will yield an average crop.

"It's just a matter of how much water we're going to get and how much affect it's going to have on the quality of them. It's going to be a longer season I think," said Hoeg.

rtetanish@amherstdaily.com



Organizations: Hoeg Farms

Geographic location: Oxford, Southampton, Memramcook Dorchester Westmorland County

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  • Frank
    January 18, 2010 - 10:37

    I started today , it is a bumper crop in Maine,Quebec,and down here in the Maritimes due to lack of frost and blight at the start of growing . IMO