Berry harvest begins

We all know the devastating affect that the Spring frost had on the cherry crop this year, but what about the other fruit crops like berries in northern Michigan? Did they survive the cold punch and what is the summer harvest outlook?

Bardenhagen Berries in Leelanau County just started harvesting it's 15 acres of strawberries this week and at first glance the crop will not be as large as last year. The Spring frost took a small toll on the berries and farm owner Steve Bardenhagen is projecting about 120,000 pounds of strawberries this summer, down 40,000 from last year.

While it is a decrease in yield, it's a much better outlook than the cherry crop and that's because berries are easier to protect.

Steve Bardenhagen says, "The difference is we're able to protect these through irregation, so 12 times this spring we were up all night irregating all these berries, we protected them from the freezing."

But the frost still left it's mark and that means consumers will see a hike in strawberry prices at some of the local grocery stores. Typically prices were around $3.50 per quart last summer, this summer they will rise to around $4.00.

The outlook is a little better for blueberries this summer because they bloom later.

Owner of Buchan's Blueberry Hill Farm on Old mission Ben Buchan is expecting 30,000 pounds of blueberries from his 5 acres this summer, down about 10,000 pounds from last year.

However the Spring frost did have an impact, "The first variety of blueberries that blossoms in the spring are called Patriot and they show some signs of frost damage and some blight on the stems."

The frost wiped out about 10% of the Patriot blueberry crop but with seven other varieties of blueberries on the farm, it should turn out to be a good harvest.

If you plan on picking blueberries at Buchan Farm this summer, you shouldn't experience much of a price hike. Blueberries will go for $1.95 to $2.00 dollars a pound.

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