10 Jun Laura: A blue kind of harvest
East Texas—I have good news and bad news. I’ll let you guess which is which. The crew made it south safely, is in place and ready to cut in north Texas. To celebrate, Mother Nature welcomed High Plains Harvesting to the state with another major rainstorm which added moisture to already saturated fields. Consequently, harvest is delayed yet again.
Since we can’t talk wheat now, maybe you would enjoy talking blueberries. The children and I recently visited Blueberry Hill Farms, which is a “pick-your-own” farm, on our summer bucket list. Even though we are directly involved in production agriculture, this crop is completely out of our wheelhouse. Since I’m a firm believer in our children learning and experiencing where their food comes from, this outing was a must do.
A unique thing about this operation is that the family wasn’t always in farming, but purchased the property to have a change of pace from city life. The owners, Chuck and Sherri, were kind enough to talk shop with me between helping customers.
As you can imagine, managing orchards and a country store is labor intensive and time consuming. I was told they start prepping for their season in the winter and work 7 days a week to prepare for opening day. The season doesn’t end when the picking is over. Pruning, orchard maintenance and other responsibilities take many more months thereafter to complete.
Like those of us in the grain business, weather can be one of the biggest factors of concern for orchards, too. Blueberry Hill Farms hasn’t been immune from the extreme weather that has affected much of the central U.S. this spring. Most recently, the farm avoided area tornadoes but the rain has been unusually plentiful like many parts of the country. Blueberries need moisture, but they aren’t a crop that enjoys having their “feet” excessively wet, so on heavier soils this abundance can become a problem. Despite the recent rain, they were irrigating the day of our visit, because this particular field sits on a patch of sandier soil. They irrigate 12 rows at a time. They typically do this for an hour before moving to the next set of rows. During the extreme heat of July, they increase the watering from one to four hours a day per section and it takes them 16 hours to complete their cycles across all the rows.
To compliment the picking experience, the family also operates an onsite country store. It boasts products such as jellies, honey, baked goods and donuts made in house. We had a great time picking berries and enjoying some of the delicious baked products the store offered. My only regret from our outing is that we didn’t pick an even bigger bag of berries!
The owners generously offered us a sample of their famous “Blueberries and Cream” pie. The recipe is a secret and no, they didn’t offer it for the blog though they have other recipes here. Y’all, I’m not normally a fan of any type of fruit pie, but I tried this and it was amazing! No wonder they don’t share the recipe! (Photo by Laura Haffner)
All Aboard Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and John Deere. Laura Haffner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.