Blueberries, blackberries on schedule, local farmers say

Published 9:21 am Saturday, July 1, 2023

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In Virginia, the picking window for blueberries and blackberries usually lasts from June through August, depending on the varieties grown.

Janet Bowen of Windmill Hill Farms in Nottoway County said her blueberries and blackberries are right on schedule.

“Our blueberries are turning out great,” Bowen said. “I think the cool weather has helped the blueberries tremendously, and the blackberries are looking very good too.”

Bowen’s farm grows early-season blueberry varieties like Suziblue, Premier and O’Neal, and those berries were ripe on June 1. The picking window likely will last until the end of July.

The farm’s blackberries will be ready for picking around the end of June and should be ripe through the middle of July.

Dwight Boston of Gold Hill Blueberry Farm in Orange County said the summer’s blueberry picking will be “very bountiful” after experiencing few challenges this growing season.

“The bushes are loaded, and it’s looking like a great season ahead,” Boston said. “The only challenge is we certainly could use more rain.”

But Boston has high hopes for his blueberries since the farm uses drip irrigation to help manage abnormally dry conditions like those reported in the county as of June 13 by U.S. Drought Monitor.

Boston grows 11 rabbiteye varieties, including Premier, Powderblue, Tifblue, Titan and Climax. The Yadkin variety is the farm’s “overall favorite for sweetness, but it’s not as prolific as some of the others,” he added.

The farm’s U-pick season typically lasts for six weeks from early July into mid-August. Updated hours of operation are posted to the farm’s Facebook page.

Boston encourages consumers to take advantage of the bountiful picking season.

“We’ve got 400 bushes, and they’re 7 feet tall, so you don’t have to bend over if you don’t want to,” he added.

Next to their sweet flavor and versatility, blueberries are hailed as a superfood—an excellent source of vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin K, and a good source of folate and fiber. Blackberries also are an excellent source of vitamins C and K and fiber, and contain carotenoids and flavonoids that may be beneficial for health, according to Virginia Cooperative Extension.

To find fresh blueberries and blackberries near you, visit the Virginia Grown website at vdacs.