Growers see bumper crop of blueberries this year

Ryan Ross
Published on August 16, 2014

Eric Kenny picks his annual stock of blueberrys at The Berry Patch in Tracadie Cross. The blueberry season is now underway.

©Guardian photo

It might be a little early in the season, but blueberry grower Claude McCardle says everything is going good so far.

McCardle runs The Berry Patch in Tracadie Cross, one of many wild blueberry patches in P.E.I. that are ready for this year’s season.

“It’s going along pretty good,” McCardle said.

At The Berry Patch, McCardle said he would have liked to have seen a bit more rain during what has been a dry summer.

“We did get a rain last week that certainly helped a lot.”

There are 10-15 acres of blueberries for the picking at The Berry Patch, which McCardle says is small compared to some bigger operations that are in the range of 500-600 acres.

And a lot of the berries from P.E.I. end up with processors, like Oxford Frozen Foods in Nova Scotia and Wyman’s of P.E.I., which handles millions of pounds of berries every year.

Some of McCardle’s blueberries end up at Oxford Frozen Foods while the rest either get cleaned and sold at The Berry Patch or get scooped up at its u-pick.

When it comes to the u-pick side of the berry business, strawberries often get more of the attention, despite numerous blueberry fields that let the public pick their own.

For McCardle, he said u-pick isn’t a big part of his business, although a lot of people enjoy going out to get their own blueberries.

“The u-pick side of it’s just okay.”

That’s because blueberries are small so it takes a lot more work to get any amount of them, unlike other u-pick products like apples, which are less labour intensive, McCardle said.

“It’s a pretty tedious task.”

McCardle said his season usually starts around Aug. 10 and he expects it to run until Sept. 10.

Blueberry facts:

- Wild blueberry plants need bees to pollinate them to produce fruit

- It can take up to 10 years to develop a commercial blueberry field

- There are only 71 calories in a cup of blueberries and 25 per cent of daily fibre requirements

- Lowbush blueberries are native to P.E.I.