Blueberry crop suffers from too much rain

Blueberry Overload

LORANGER, LA (WVUE) - Rain is generally a good thing for farmers, but more than a foot in some locations in the last week can be too much of a good thing.

In Loranger in Tangipahoa Parish some farmers are dealing with flooded fields by inviting more visitors. When we think Louisiana berries, strawberries are probably first on your list, but other berries are abundant.

"You can absolutely plant blueberries in Louisiana. They grow just fine," said Jessie Fleenor of Berryhill Farms.

Moving from spring to summer, it is now blueberry season.

"They end around the first or second week in July and they will probably end early because we had an early season," said Jessie's Dad, Will Fleenor.

The recent rains make it less likely the fruit will make it to Fourth of July.

"The berries get too plump and split, the rain and the wind knock the berries to the ground, bugs," said Will. "We are an organic operation so we are very limited in our defenses against the bugs."

The Fleenor family along with numerous farmers are hoping to get people out picking this weekend in order to save what started as a bumper crop. As the ripe fruit lingers in the saturated grounds there is more of chance it goes from juicy to junk.

"Here's an example you see this berry here that's split right there," said Will. "That's from too much water."

Even one bursting berry can spoil the whole bunch.

Will adds, "When you pick berries that are starting to split you can't always see it and then you get it in with the other berries so when you pack them they all become mushy."

You pick farms have an advantage as the fruit doesn't get handled as much and usually is eaten right away.

"Some people they bring their kids," said Will. "They haven't been out on the farm before and we have chickens and cows. It's just sort of a family outing."

It's not only fun, but some say there are other benefits to local produce picked in your own back yard.

"It helps your immune system in developing defenses against the things that are in your local environment," said Will.

Jessie adds, "There's so much interest in local food and eating healthy and knowing how your food is grown. We started the vegetable operation about five or six years ago. It's done really well."

The whole Fleenor family enjoys life on the farm and your family can get a taste for a day at Berryhill or many other farms in the area for just the cost of your berries.

Berryhill charges $14 a gallon and they even use the honor system if you show up when they're not at home you can leave the money in a box. Rates and hours vary by farm.

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