Farmers are reporting a bumper crop for blueberries

  • Local blueberry growers say they're experiencing a bumper crop this summer. STAFF PHOTO BY BEN CONANT—

  • Local blueberry growers say they're experiencing a bumper crop this summer. STAFF PHOTO BY BEN CONANT—

  • Local blueberry growers say they're experiencing a bumper crop this summer. STAFF PHOTO BY BEN CONANT—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/18/2022 11:04:43 AM

Blueberry farms are having a great summer so far. 

“It’s the biggest crop we’ve ever had,” said Gordon Webber, who runs Patten Hill Farm in Antrim, “It keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Webber attributes the particularly good season to the month of May. 

“The flowers get pollinated in May. This May we had really good weather. That’s always a big factor,” he explained. If there are freezes, the blossoms can die and they won’t produce fruit, yielding a smaller crop. He also keeps bees by the blueberry bushes to do a lot of that pollinating.

Lorraine Rodier’s grandfather started Smith’s Blueberries in New Ipswich in 1975. Now she runs the farm.

“It’s a fabulous year,” she said. She also credits the fact that there weren’t late frosts and the mild spring weather.

Beth LeClair, who runs Barrett Hill Farm in Mason with her husband Matt, said they’re happy with their crop, as well. 

“They came out of winter looking really good,” she said, but added, “We never know until the season is over.” 

Blueberry season is concentrated in July and August. Patten Hill, Smith’s and Barrett Hill have multiple varieties of blueberries; some are early season and others ripen later. The earlier varieties are still peaking, and the region is in a moderate drought. 

Webber’s not too worried about dry weather in the later summer weeks.

“We have a naturally wet spot, a big hillside across the street with a number of springs,” he said. “The blueberries are lush even in drought.”

Not all farms have similar water access, however, and LeClair said, “Whenever the weather is extreme it’s really hard on any plant.”

But she’s still hopeful this will continue to be a good year.

“Looks like it’s going to be a great season,” LeClair said, “Pick while the picking’s good.”

And people have been doing just that. 

“We were voted No. 1 on WMUR as best picking farm in New Hampshire,” Rodier said of Smith’s Blueberries. “People come from all over.”

LeClair is teaching a jam-making class.

“It filled up so fast,” she said. She has noticed people are increasingly concerned with buying local, growing and preserving their own food and “supporting a farm that could save them later on.”

Patten Hill Farm is at 133 West St. in Antrim and is open every day of the week during the season from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Smith’s Blueberries is at 265 Turnpike Road in New Ipswich and is open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Barrett Hill Farm is at 103 Barrett Hill Road in Mason and is open for blueberry-picking every day of the week except Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 6.p.m.

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