Blueberries bursting with flavor this summer
DRY FORK—Blueberry season has begun, and this year’s berries are bursting with flavor.
Steve Carty, owner of Foxridge Acres in Pittsylvania County, said this year’s berries are as good, if not better, than last year’s.
“The berries are big and have lots of flavor as long as you pick the ripe ones,” McCarty exclaimed.
Dr. Jayesh Samtani, small fruit specialist at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center, said that’s a “pretty accurate” assessment statewide.
He said several growers in the Virginia Beach area and one in Williamsburg have reported that the blueberry crop “is looking great this season.”
McCarty started planting blueberries soon after moving back to his family’s farm in 2014, when he accepted a job as a Virginia Farm Bureau insurance sales agent in Henry County. He said he and his wife, Judy, knew they wanted to plant something, but weren’t sure what.
“My wife and I had been to a pick-your-own blueberry farm and enjoyed the experience,” he recalled. “She said, ‘How about we plant blueberries?’ She was thinking 15 to 20 plants, and I was thinking more like 250.”
They ended up with 1,000 after visiting their local Virginia Cooperative Extension office for more information. “The very next day the Extension agent emailed me and said Virginia State University was offering a grant for small farmers who wanted to plant blueberries.”
The couple applied for the grant, and that October they picked up more than 1,000 blueberry bushes, along with supplies for a drip irrigation system from VSU. Carty said it took about a month for him and his entire family to get the plants into the ground. “It was quite an adventure.”
The bushes are planted in 18 200-foot-long rows on 1 acre of land. There are plenty of customers who come and pick blueberries at the farm from the beginning of June through the end of July. Carty sells the berries at one local farmers market and a retail location as well.
Virginia is not among the top blueberry-growing states, but the 2017 Census of Agriculture counted 456 blueberries farms here.
Media: Contact Judy Carty at 540-809-6894.