It seems like there is no such thing as a normal year anymore.
The severe winters of 2014 and 2015, greatly reduced the blueberry crop. The bushes then had two years of rest with small crops. We had great growing conditions during summer 2015, and a very good crop in 2016.
The winter of 2017 was very mild compared to the past winters. We were about one week ahead with Growing Degree Days coming into May. Then in early May, we got a big freeze.
With temperatures near freezing and dew points in the low 20’s, we fired up the irrigation pumps and started frost protection at 10 pm. Other growers inland and to the north started earlier with pumps and frost fans. It was 9:30 the next morning when the ice started melting and we could shut down the irrigation pumps. That next night we dodged a bullet. A cloud cover formed over Lake Michigan and came inland and we were spared another night in the mid 20’s.
Mother Nature was not done with us yet. We had a week of cold rainy and windy conditions during mid-May when the blueberries were in bloom. So what looked like a very big crop in April, turned out to be below average with a lot of small fruit.
The summer temperatures were moderate and rainfall was adequate up until August. We did notice that some varieties did much better than others. I think some varieties got a short pollination window and set fruit and sized up. There were others that did not. That is one reason to plant several varieties because not everyone will perform every year.
Demand for blueberries in our farm market and U-pick was very strong again this past summer. It is time to start evaluating your future and current operation. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any help for planning your operation. We are proud that 2018 will mark the farms 60th anniversary.