Fall weather hinders summer’s berry crops in central Wisconsin
STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - The unseasonably warm temperature last fall is causing problems for this summer’s berry crops.
Chet Skippy, owner of Chet’s Blueberry Farm said he’s already three weeks into picking season and his crop is producing only a third of what it usually does.
Skippy said the loss in the crop is because of the unusually warm temperatures that hit the region in October and November. Those temperatures caused the buds to blossom a second time in one season.
“We literally had white blossoms in the field. And we knew that was not going to be good. And we were hoping they had enough time to recover and produce a few more. But it did not happen,” farm manager Lisa Crockett said.
Each bush usually produces anywhere between 20 to 50 pounds of berries. But they said pickers are having to pick almost a whole row to reach that.
“We’ve only been typically open on Tuesday... maybe half a day on Wednesday. But we get flooded with customers, the parking lot is full. And every bush has pickers on it, they are coming out with a lot of berries, but then we have to close within the day. Typically well before our 2 p.m. closing. So between 11 and noon. So they’re only open for six hours and they’re getting plenty of berries, but then we have to be close and no one can get anymore,” Crockett explained.
Skippy explained that it wasn’t just his farm. He said he had specialists come out to see if he was doing anything wrong, but the answer was plain and simple: Mother Nature wasn’t on their side.
“It’s helpful to know that it wasn’t something that we had done that its nature of farming, it’s going to happen. Things are up one year and down another, and this was, unfortunately, a down year for the berries but the bushes themselves are looking very healthy. So we’re looking for a good season next year,” Crockett said. “We’re disappointed that we can’t offer picking every day like we’d like to, hopefully, [customers] still come when we’re open and pick when we’re open and hopefully bring family and friends back next year, since this season is pretty difficult. I know they’re disappointed when they call and they’re driving through from out of town and out of state. But if the berries aren’t there, I don’t want them to come and be disappointed.”
People can follow Chet’s Blueberry Farm’s Facebook page to follow along for updates, or call 715-340-4989. The farm is located at 525 County Road J North, Stevens Point.
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