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Berry good timing

Samantha Lewakowski • Jul 9, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Tim and Brenda Fox have traveled to West Michigan for an annual camping trip the past several summers, but have never been able to go blueberry picking — until now. 

The Lake Orion couple’s annual visit just happened to overlap with the much-anticipated kickoff to the local blueberry season, which officially started at many area farms earlier this week. 

“We’ve been over here camping for the past few summers but have never been able to time up the opening perfectly,” Tim Fox said as he picked berries at Reenders Blueberry Farm in West Olive on Friday afternoon. 

Reenders opened to the public on Thursday. 

Lindsey Dykstra explained that the local farm grows 12 varieties of blueberries, all of which will sprout up at one time or another throughout the summer. The earliest variety, called dukes, are available for U-Pick right now. The most popular berries, the early blues, will be ready in a few weeks.

“We’re hoping for one or two more weeks for these berries to be ready,” said Dykstra, who grew up working on the farm and is now a manager. “These (early blues) are the ones that everyone loves. They are large and sweet — just a crowd pleaser.”

Blueberries are big business in West Michigan, with at least 10 farms offering U-Pick opportunities. 

Despite recent rainfall, the start to the 2016 summer has been an exceedingly dry one. Fortunately, it hasn’t had an adverse affect on this year’s blueberry crop, Dykstra said. 

“This summer is looking really good despite the dry weather we’ve had so far,” she said. “We do as much as we can with our irrigation system, but nothing compares to actual rain water — that’s always better. I see the season going as far as mid-September.”

 

Last year, harsh winter temperatures led to a slightly smaller-than-average blueberry crop.

 

 

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