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Randolph County grower expects to have tremendous blueberry harvest

RAMSEUR, N.C. -- Across the Piedmont, one of the warmest Februaries on record was quickly replaced by spring snow and cold. Beverly Mooney, owner of Millstone Creek Orchards in Ramseur, feared another blueberry season would give her the blues. As it turns out, there were some rays of hope.

"The temperatures did seem to bounce," Mooney said. "We did have early warming in February. But when we had the freezes in March and April, the temperatures bounced pretty good for us."

Just enough warmth during a cold spring kept the 700 blueberries healthy. Mooney also had another reason to stay positive.

"Well I think part of it is last year we had a significant crop loss. So anytime you have a major crop loss, those plants want to over produce the next year. They had a year to rest up and all of the energy going into the plant," she said.

So when spring finally arrived, the blueberries bushes were ready to go. Mooney likes what she sees as she pulls back several blueberry branches.

"If you start looking in here, although we are still 10 days to two weeks out, there's a whole lot of fruit in this bush," she said. ​

In fact, there could be too many blueberries. This year's harvest could rank in the top 3 at Millstone Creek Orchards.

"After we get into full production in two to three weeks, we will have so many berries coming off of at a time," Mooney said. "We will probably be offering promotions like first pound free. You come pick'em and I will give them to you."

The only weather-related problem Millstone Creek Orchards is facing is too much rain. That's why Mooney is still thrilled to see several days of sun so crews can get to work.

"We had to put out a lot of fertilizer and doing a lot of care right now and getting ready for harvest as our guest start picking," she said.

Blueberries are a big deal at Millstone Creek and across the state. North Carolina is the sixth largest blueberry producer in the nation. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said 8,000 acres of blueberries are grown in the state. In 2016 the state's blueberry production was valued at nearly $67 million.

​ Millstone Creek Orchards in Ramseur is open to the public on Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.