Blueridge Blueberries employees work in the company's processing facility in Middle Sackville.
SACKVILLE, N.B. – Mother Nature has been kind to blueberry producers this season in New Brunswick, with bountiful crops being harvested throughout the Tantamar region this month.
“It’s really good this year,” says Mary Wilson, co-owner of Blueridge Blueberries in Middle Sackville. “The weather has been cooperating and the blueberries are nice and big . . . and plentiful.”
Mary, who owns and operates a blueberry growing, harvesting and processing business with her husband John, said the season thankfully started off with a fairly warm spring, a sunny July, with a bit of rain and sun mixed in during the first two weeks of August – a successful combination for the berry industry.
As well, the weather over the past two weeks has been near-perfect for harvesting as there have been more sunny days than rainy; and she and John are keeping their fingers crossed that the weather continues to be on their side for the next couple of weeks as the berries can’t be picked when wet.
“Mother nature doesn’t always make it easy,” says John, who says weather is always the biggest challenge and worry facing berry growers each year.
The harvesting season got under way for the Wilsons on Aug. 12 and is expected to continue until the week of Sept. 9. Their berries are machine harvested from various fields in Sackville and surrounding areas, some of which they own themselves and some of which are leased.
Blueridge Blueberries employs about four or five pickers in the field as well as about a dozen local people to work the production line (two shifts) when the flats of berries are brought in.
From the Wilsons’ home-based location, the berries (approximately 2,500 pounds of them each day) are then put through a fresh-pack line machine – which blows out the unwanted leaves and twigs, then sorts out the clumped berries, with a line of production workers then waiting to remove any stems or small and squished berries.
From there, they are placed on a reefer truck and put onto palettes to keep cold, awaiting arrival of a Loblaws transport truck early the next morning. Loblaws is Blueridge Blueberries’ main client and supplies berries to stores all over the Maritimes.
Blueridge also sells berries at the Sackville farmers’ market each Saturday or customers can also pick up a box or two at their home-based location at 341 Main Street from 2-8 p.m. every day. For larger orders, call 536-1998.