Drought makes blueberries smaller
Published 1:59 am Monday, June 19, 2006
By By KERRY WHIPPLE BEAN – Publisher
Storms that poured rain over the Alabama Blueberry Festival organizers setting up on Friday afternoon may have been ironic, since experts say the current drought in south Alabama has made the blueberry crop smaller than usual this year.
The lack of rain reduces the size of the fruit - and the yield, said Brewton's Tom McMillan.
McMillan said he irrigates his blueberry crop, although few growers in the area do.
And even if the area gets rain now, McMillan said it's too late for blueberries.
The size of blueberries certainly didn't affect their popularity at the Blueberry Festival Saturday, when Escambia Blueberry Growers were almost sold out by early afternoon.
Blueberries aren't the only Alabama fruits seeing changes this year. Chilton County peaches are expected to be smaller but sweeter because of the drought, experts said.
The drought has delayed planting for many farmers, said Buck Farrior, of the Escambia County Extension Service.
Farrior said he is hoping for more rain.
Area farmers won't make the best yields this year, but they won't know until crops are harvested just how much the drought has affected them, Farrior said.