Blueberries


Season Ended – Feeling Very Blue!

Thank you for your great support for our blueberry habit!  We have had a good season, a lot of people picking, and a lot of berries eaten.  If you picked you noticed the many plants that are still small, young and not yet producing much.  Next year we expect a bigger harvest and so we are hoping that you will mark your calendars and come and pick again.  This year we had an early spring and so the berries ripened earlier.  Lets wait and see how next year goes……

Best wishes for the rest of the year and we hope to see you again in 2018!

Ruth and Doug Welch

Blues End Farm

2017 Blueberry Season

Blueberries are in! We have the nets up and are working on the weeds all the while watching the blueberries turning blue!  We think that Monday June 5 we should have enough berries ripe to start picking.  Please call 502.889.7018 if you want to come pick to arrange a time and day.

Blueberries are looking good!  We anticipate beginning to harvest maybe the last week of May.  Stay tuned!

Our major effort to “protect” the berries from birds in a more long-term manner failed!  Yes, after about 5 months or regular and determined work of putting up a permanent net over the two fields of blueberries we felt ready for the new season of 2015.  We put in many 4×4 treated posts and strung galvanized steel cable from the poles to support the netting.  We bought some wider netting and attached it to the cables.  We effectively covered about an acre of land with the nets and intended to put on the sides as we had berries ripening.  We anticipated that the holes in the nets were large enough to let snow fall through it.  Well, in November when we had an early and heavy snow the snow piled up on the nets and the weight of it caused 3 of the 4×4 posts to snap in two!   What a mess!  So after months of working putting the nets up we now had to spend our time taking them off the plants and collecting all the steel cables.

So what to do about the birds?  We went back to an early, but minimally successful, method of spraying the planst with an organic spray made from grape skins.  So this year we combined the spray with the broadcast bird distress sounds to keep the birds away.  How did it go?  Well it was better than an earlier attempt and we were able to pick some berries during a short window of having ripe berries and no birds.  We are still working on how to make this work.

We have appreciated the Kentucky fruit state extension agent’s interest and support as we try to improve our blueberry production.  This fall (2015) we expect to try creating raised beds for our plants to see if this will help overcome the slow die off of plants from “root rot”.   The heavier soils that we have keep too much water near the plants and as the roots expand they encounter the water and cause the plants to slowly die.  We seem to be adequately challenged with our efforts and yet we keep on.  We have tried several varieties of berries and find the following to be those that do the best for us.

2016

We found yet another way to cover the field with nets and went hard at it to put in the new system.  We had over 100 poles pounded in the ground and Doug strung high tensile wire along them forming rows.  The netting was delivered to the house by the owner of the company and we went to putting them up.  We finally, with much hard work and patience, got the nets in place and covered the field.  Fantastic!  We were able to keep birds out of the berries and any birds that somehow got in, Azul (our dog) chased them down and got them out.  We had a good season for berries selling over 400 pounds of berries to ‘u-pickers’ who came to the farm.  We did not pick and sell very many berries.  The new net system stayed up on the wires and we are now able to slide them out of the way so snow can’t accumulate on them to tear them down.  We are looking forward to the 2017 season.

Also, the Extension agent did follow through with setting up a “trial” in our field bringing in a plow that we could use to created mounded rows.  We mounded a couple of rows and then removed mounds in an alternate fashion so we could see how mounded plants fare compared to plants on the flat.  We were given about 50 plants for the trial.  Great!

We finished out the field by putting in some more plants that we purchased to fill our field out.  2017 will be a slow year for these new plants but soon we’ll have much more than we can handle!

Patriot (June 12-June 25)

Patriot blueberries are an early maturing fruit. They are a large dark-blue flat berry. The berries are tart and highly flavored making excellent pies and jams. They have done well for us and have grown into the largest plants we have but now we see them to have begun to decline in our “wetter” field.  Peak season is June 15.

Blueray (June 12-June 22)

Blueray seems to be the best plant that we have and it is doing pretty well so far in our soils.  The blueberries ripen midseason. The berries form tight clusters and are large and sweet. Peak season is June 16

Jersey (June 18-July 1)

This is one of the oldest varieties and one of the varieties that seems to still be doing well. The berries are sweet and medium sized. This is a late season blueberry ripening in late June to early July.

We have tried other varieties but these 3 have done the best for us.   We have some of the following two varieties but they are not doing as well for us.

Bluecrop (June 16-July 1)

Sources say that Bluecrop is the most reliable and the most widely planted blueberry.  So we tried it and so far Bluecrop does not resist the problems associated with heavier soils. Bluecrop blueberries are large, light blue with good flavor.

Olympia (July 1-July 15)

Some say this is the best tasting blueberry! We moved the plants from our “wetter” field to a higher spot and we are still waiting to see them do well.