| Date of Last Update: 17 April 2015
Watch your email for crop condition updates. If you are not on our email list and would like to be,
please contact us. Typically the newsletter will be short and come out weekly
during the harvest season [June to August] to let you know what is happening. It also comes out once or twice in the off season.
Current Weather Conditions at The Happy Berry.
To check the weather click here
and select "Base Reflectivity Loop." Again we are due west of the "+" sign for Greenville on the
map, on the line between Pickens and Oconee County.
Forecasts, Strawberries, and other Spring Things
Blackberries – forecast June 1.
Blueberries – forecast June 15.
Stay tuned to the websited for updates as we get further past the volatile Spring Weather.
We don’t do strawberries but we have friends that do. Our best guess is that local strawberries will start about April 20 maybe a few days more or less. Below is a list of growers and their number to check harvest status and get directions.
- Hunter farms – 864 859 2978 Near Easley
- Berry Acres- 864 224 5441 on the west side of Anderson- new owner… Angie and Brett Evelen bought Hardy Berry Farm
- Beechwood Farms- 864 836 6075 Near Slater and Marietta north of Greenville
- Happy Cow Creamery – 864 243 9699 near Pelzer – Organic
- Callaham’s Orchards – 864 338 0810 between Belton and Williamston east of Anderson
- Sandy Flat Berry Farms - 864 895 4780 near Taylors north of Greenville
We have lots of nice “Pinks” (Easter Willows). We also have lots of nice flowering willow stems in the cooler in addition to Red Curly or Cork Screw Willow and Red and Yellow Stick Dogwood. If you want to grow-your-own, we will teach you how and provide the cuttings. Please come see us at the farm. We also have lots of nice plants for planting out as well. We will be open at the farm Saturday April 18 and April 25 from 11 AM till 3 PM for end of season specials. Make us a reasonable offer! And we will probably take it!
Bud crop – Looks great! But March 29 was a killer.
A huge crop of blues is in the making if nothing more happens. At 3:30 AM March 29 we were holding 33 degrees with the wind machine when the gear box locked down. Between 3:30 and 6:30 the temperature dropped 11 degrees. Bottom line it looks like some varieties had significant damage. The Delights were hardest hit but we have been gradually removing these bushes and replacing them with Onslow and Montgomery and Ochlockonee. The Climax and Premier …early varieties… loss some flowers but because of the tremendous bud crop I think we are okay. We had no additional damage on Easter Sunday when it went to 32 degrees.
The mid season and late blackberries look great at this time but early season Prime Ark and Magic were hit hard. The king flowers are dead but there are lateral buds that were not hurt and there is compensation in blackberries. I will provide more later on the blackberry situation.
The seedless table grapes, thanks to the control of downy mildew (a leaf disease) and the use of Pheromones (we did not have to use an insecticide) to control grape root borer, has a great crop of grapes coming.
The freeze damage in the figs in 2014 is still taking its toll. Even though we have planted more figs we are anticipating the crop will be shorter than in the pass.
Muscadines look good but the Supreme plants we lost in 2014 have not grown back yet. Therefore we expect the Supreme volume will be about the same as last year, which is still less than the 2013 harvest.
The Future is based on the Past:
The large amount of rain in 2013 (21 extra inches above normal in June, July, and August) created a leaf disease situation that resulted in heavy leaf loss in the blueberries and subsequently lower than normal flower buds in the spring of 2014. Several cold snaps in the spring of 2014, which were preceded with a warm period in early January, severely killed back several varieties of blackberries. Then a late April freeze (post our wind machine motor throwing a piston) further damaged both blackberry and blueberry flower buds. In addition we have been attacked by the spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) starting in 2013 and continuing in 2014. (This resulted in extra grading efforts for SWD.)
The bottom line: 2012 was best year ever to date. The year 2013 saw us with a 30% loss in gross sales from 2012. Similarly 2014 had production levels in line with 2013 (with the same 30% loss in gross sales from 2012). The good news is that we have been diversifying over the years and that has contributed to, and we hope continues to, stabilize gross sales. We anticipate 2015 to be better than last year, still not up to par with 2012.
Spring Goings On:
Scouting for Gall Midges: One of our spring projects is scouting for Gall Midges among the blueberry plants. The Gall Midge is an insect that eats blueberry buds. Gall Midges are a serious problem for industrial blueberry growers in Georgia and Florida but Gall Midge scouting suggests that natural predation (the natural enemies of Gall Midges) on our farm, because of the way we farm, is sufficient for us avoid using an insecticide. To scout for the midge we collect 75 flower buds and put them in a plastic sandwich bag, then seal the bag. After 5 days examine the bag first against a dark surface looking for really tiny white grubs- a magnifying glass helps. Next examine the bag against a white surface to look for tiny pinkish grubs – these are the last instar (the last stage) of the midge metamorphosis. If you are worried about your own blueberry bushes, check the buds. Buds damaged by Gall Midge will be dried up or have a hole in them.
Fertilization: The other big Spring project is fertilizing the plants. Generally first application is March 1, the second April 1 and the last May 1 in most crops except in those where we have been able to established stands of Crimson clover like in the muscadines and grapes. The rate is about 1/3 cup per bush in mature blueberries. The pH in the blueberries is about 4.9 so we have not had much success in establishing clover or a nitrogen fixer that we know of. Recent research has established that there are other bacterial nitrogen fixers besides those associated with legumes. The research suggested that nitrogen fertilization suppresses their development/activity. We will experiment with the suggested practice of gradually reducing fertilization over several years comparing to no fertilization control and continued normal practice.
Fertilization of blackberries is normally done March 1 in the blackberries, usually about a cup per 10 linear feet of row in the row not as a broad cast application.
Spring Pruning Report – blueberries… done, Persimmons …done, Seedless table grapes …done and we will finish muscadines soon (not a moment too soon…They are popping now!)
Six Mile market has begun- Thursdays 4 to 7pm. Come find us and buy some eggs, jams, and, for now anyway we still have willows – dried and plants. Check our website for updates on when we will begin the other markets.
Let us make a plea to you – PLEASE support your local farmers (not just us) by coming to markets. It is a chicken and egg problem- if local farmers can’t sell their food locally, they won’t be able to continue farming. And if you haven’t heard Walker’s speech already, just stop by any time to be reminded of how important we think the production of local food is to us, our kids, our future.
Rational economic man verses the bioregional citizen-
Our objectives as farmers are to make a living and to protect our standing in the community, our social connections and assets (with assets including all our natural resources such as the land, water and – you get the picture…). We value our material goods (land, labor, bushes, etc.) only as they serve to protect these objectives. To the popular global economists we are not rational… It is more important to us to be a local and regional citizen then to just make as much money as possible.
We hope you will come help us do that! See you on the farm
The Happy Berry Bunch-
Walker, Ann, Zoe and Betty-Ann
The Happy Berry, Inc.
Mailing Address Only: 120 Kelley Creek Road
Farm Address-No Mail Receptacle: 510 Gap Hill Road
Six Mile, SC 29682
Farm: (864) 350-9345