Sweet taste of summer
Published 4:40 am Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Berries will be plenty, available Saturday
While not a “bumper crop” this year, there will still be plenty of beautiful ripe berries available for sale at Saturday’s 36th annual Blueberry Festival.
Tom McMillan with the Escambia Blueberry Growers Inc., distributors for the “finest blueberries in Alabama” said this season yields are of good quality and quantity.
“We had an early freeze and a late frost, which killed some of the blooms,” McMillan said. “That lent for a somewhat reduced crop, but instead of big clusters of berries, we’re seeing clusters of about four-to-five berries of very good quality. We aught to have some very good fruit for the festival.”
The association farms some 50 acres of blueberries in Escambia and Baldwin counties, as well as in Florida. An estimated 60-80 pickers work daily to bring in the yield. Once out of the field, the fruits are transported to air-conditioned facilities for sorting.
“The secret to bringing in great berries is to pick early in the morning and keep them cool,” McMillan said. “When berries become hot, they become soft and can leak. What we want is a nice, plump and firm berry. Thanks to the weather so far, we haven’t seen any excess rains. With excess rain, berries can become overfilled and bust, and we don’t want that. We need rain, but not too much.”
Blueberries for sale at Saturday’s festival by the pint and flat.