Weather threatens successful blackberry and blueberry season

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. -- The Piedmont just experienced the second-warmest May on record. While we were sweating, the blackberries and blueberries at Millstone Creek Orchards in Ramseur were soaking in the sun.

Beverly Mooney, owner of Millstone Creek Orchards, explained why the heat is great for blackberries and blueberries.

"It absolutely turns them on. It causes the ripening process to happen faster," Mooney said.

And the ripening is happening just as the rain falls across the Piedmont. Owners and workers at Millstone Creek are picking the tasty berries as fast as they can. Remaining on the vine is not an option.

"If they soak up that much moisture, blue or blackberry, it will split,"  Mooney said. "The moisture also diminishes their flavor."

The rain also washes away the hopes of customers coming to the orchards to pick their own blackberries and blueberries.

"So many people, guests come from the Piedmont, the Raleigh area, from all over, they drive 30 minutes to an hour," Mooney said. "If there is a good chance of rain, it's not worth making the drive. They will wait 'til it's a pretty day."

What do you do with a bumper crop of blackberries and blueberries? You rely on the same thing that's keeping some blackberry and blueberry fans away, the weather.

"Low humidity, temperatures are nice, this weekend is the weekend to move them," Mooney said. "We got to mark them way down because I have a huge volume of both blueberries and blackberries that need to be moved in the next five days."

When the sun returns, Millstone Creek Orchards hopes to begin selling the berries and celebrating the harvest during their "Berry Celebration" on June 15 and 16.

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