Last updated on July 7th, 2016 at 08:25 am
Blueberry harvest is officially underway with the annual “First Pick” in Grand Junction, Michigan.
To kick-off the season, South Haven Mayor Bob Burr and Larry Ensfield, president/CEO of MBG Marketing, a grower-owned cooperative and a founding partner of Naturipe Farms, which manages the sales, marketing and distribution of the co-op’s blueberries, visited with Harris Blueberries LLC growers Scott and Marcy Harris and Scott’s uncle, Al Harris.
Scott Harris gave Mayor Burr a tour and shared the history of the farm – an operation which once started on two acres in 1978 that now encompasses 250 acres of growing opportunity. Harris, a first generation grower, learned the business with his uncle’s help. Now, Scott’s daughters and extended family members are getting into the family tradition of growing blueberries. “I want to ensure they understand the value of our work and take pride in the product we produce for consumers,” he said.
“It is always a pleasure to meet our local blueberry growers and have the opportunity to partake in the First Pick,” says Mayor Burr. “Harris Blueberries represents an impressive number of generational family growers throughout our community who make such a strong impact both locally and throughout the U.S. and beyond with their blueberries.”
Growers of Naturipe are aligned with the Cultivate with Care program which recognizes the significance of minimizing environmental impact and has a commitment to environmental stewardship. Harris enjoys this aspect of growing and says, “I relish the chance to develop a farm into something that is sustainable and can endure for generations to come.” Currently, Harris is converting all new plantings to trickle irrigation in order to conserve water and wind machines for frost protection.
Michigan is among the largest blueberry producing states in the nation and looks to have a similar crop to last year. For Naturipe Farms, early season varieties include Bluetta and Duke which will peak the first half of July; a large mid-season supply of Blue Crop, Draper and Liberty which look to peak around the last two weeks of July and through mid-August; a strong late season availability of Elliot and Aurora, among others, will supply blueberries to the Eastern U.S. through the month of September.