Berries, cherries thriving this season

Published 11:36 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Berry and stone fruit season is underway in Virginia, and this year’s crops of cherries and blueberries are thriving.

“We’re seeing greater consumer demand for fresh, local fruit and acreage for cherries and blueberries is increasing in Virginia,” said Tony Banks, commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “This trend is occurring throughout the Southeast and elsewhere in the country.”

Blueberries and cherries are consumer favorites because “they’re easy to eat as a snack, easy to handle and people love to eat them frozen,” said Carter Parr of Seamans’ Orchard in Nelson County.

Seamans’ planted more than three acres and 2,500 small fruit plants this season, and they’re ripe and ready to pick.

“We’ve had a great crop this year between our cherries and blueberries, and we’ve seen a high demand for small fruits this year,” Parr said.

“The biggest challenge we typically face is the weather. This year we got lucky, and weather only left us about three, four days behind our schedule.”

Weather conditions have the greatest impact on fruit production in Virginia.

“Fortunately the weather and climate varies tremendously across the state, so if one region’s farms lose a crop to the weather, farmers in another part of the state could have a really good one that same year,” Banks said.