Chet’s Blueberry farm preparing for season
WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - It is the first weekend of spring, and time for farmers to start planning the crops they’ll bring in later in the year. At Chet’s Blueberries in Stevens Point the work has begun. They are pruning the bushes and watching the buds start to peek out.
“There’s 10 different varieties. We’ve got Bonus, we’ve got Dukes, we’ve got Blue Crop, Blue Rays, Nelsons, Elliots, Chippewas,” said owner Chet Skippy.
The Nelsons hold a special place in his heart. They were planted at the request of a former seasonal worker Teresa Grapsas. Grapsas was a special education teacher who died of cancer about three years ago.
“We kind of have a memorial set up for her, we set it up in memory of her. Seems like everyone still remembers her like she’s still around, and needless to say she’s not,” said Skippy.
Chet also honors her memory by keeping on with the work. He said he just kept going after heart surgery, and recently advised another friend not to let cancer make him give up on life.
Right now they are removing old branches to give the newer ones a greater chance at producing nice large berries. Soon they will mulch about one third of them, which they rotate on a yearly basis.
“We’re caning. We’re thinning them out. You’re not supposed to have more than eight to twelve risers coming up. That’s max. Eight to twelve risers and that works out real good,” Skippy said.
The farm has about 12 acres of bushes and produces millions of berries a year. He doesn’t sell in farmers markets or local groceries, though. People come to him.
“We have enough pickers that we don’t have to. The only one we sell commercially to is Sunset Winery, the wine company here in Stevens Point,” Skippy said. Sunset Point Winery produces its Blu Nova wine using his berries.
Chet said when he started the farm he did just about everything wrong from soil pH to using fertilizer instead of organic mulch and he had to learn along the way. But he says, you find a void, you fill it, and that’s what keeps him young.
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