Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Prime Season for Blackberries & Peaches

   Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Independence Day.  Many, many people came to pick thornless blackberries and buy peaches in the week leading up to July 4, as happens each year.  Now the prime productive season is starting for both blackberries and peaches, July 5 to about July 31.
   That's the heaviest time for blackberries every year.  This year it's also the time that we'll harvest the greatest amount of peaches, since they started almost 3 weeks early this year, and will end almost 3 weeks early, about Aug. 5.
   All 4 of our thornless blackberry varieties have ripe fruit now.  'Natchez' produces huge blackberries, very popular especially for making cobblers, and they will continue ripening for the next 2 to 3 weeks.  'Apache' berries are almost as big and are also great for making cobblers.
'Apache' blackberries, very large and great for making cobblers, have started and will continue ripening for the next 2 to 3 weeks.
   'Triple Crown' blackberries are large, have the smallest seeds and are the juiciest, so they're especially good for making jams and jellies.  'Ouachita' berries are smaller with great flavor, great for fruit salads where a larger blackberry would be too big for the other fruits in the salad.
I made this Berry Apple Salad for a church potluck for visiting missionaries this past Sunday, and all got eaten.  I used 3 'GoldRush' apples (which we still have for sale), 3 types of raspberries (purple, red and yellow) and 'Ouachita' blackberries, so the blackberries aren't too big for the other fruits in the salad.  I'm posting the recipe on our Facebook page, Brendas Berries, as a Note, along with my other fruit recipes.
   All berries are sold pick-your-own only.  Thornless blackberries cost $2.55 per quart + tax, pick-your-own.  There are NO chiggers, and you can pick a quart of blackberries in 5 minutes.  Raspberry season has now ended, except for a few everbearing red and yellow raspberries which are still ripening.
   We provide containers, and just ask that you return the containers to us for reuse on your next trip to Brenda's Berries.  Please also bring back any peach boxes or other containers you previously got from us.  Several customers have brought us some cardboard trays to use for other customers, which we greatly appreciate!  Chetopa Foods saves cardboard trays for us, which we also greatly appreciate.  We can still use more, since we run through thousands of cardboard trays each summer.
   Some customers bring plastic or metal trays to place their blackberry quarts on to bring them home, which also helps.  Please do not bring bowls to dump the berries into, as that damages them, and we want the berries to stay in the quarts you picked them into until you get them home.
   Weekday mornings are great times to come for those able to do so.  If you come on Sat. morning (our busiest time) to pick blackberries, try to arrive by 8 or 8:30 a.m.  We open at 7:30 a.m. Mon.-Sat. for berry pickers, but those who want only peaches should arrive after 9 a.m. to give our workers time to pick the peaches.  We're closed from 12 noon to 7:00 p.m.  We're open 7-9 p.m. each evening, but call 620-597-2450 in the afternoon to be sure we'll have peaches that evening.
    Peaches are sold harvested; we do not allow customers to pick peaches.  Our trained workers harvest peaches each morning Mon.-Sat. when it's not raining.  Some days rain may curtail harvest (such as this morning) or fewer peaches are ripe, and we may sell out by late morning or early evening.  We often have no peaches to sell on Sun. evening, since our workers do not pick peaches on Sun. morning as we're closed for church.
We're now harvesting 'Intrepid' (photo), my favorite peach variety, and just started harvesting 'Contender' peaches.
   We grow 17 different peach varieties that provide a succession of ripening over 2 months.  Each variety ripens over a 10-day to 2-week period.  Our mid- to late-season peaches had less bud kill from spring frosts, so will have bigger crops than most of our earlier varieties.  We're now harvesting 'Intrepid' and just started harvesting 'Contender' peaches.  I give taste samples of the varieties ripe at each time.  All these peaches are freestone.  Peach prices are detailed in the previous post (scroll down).
   We also still have some 'GoldRush' apples for sale.  These stay crisp and juicy with great flavor for 10 to 11 months in our cooler or a fridge.  We're now down to about 180 pounds of 'GoldRush' apples (#1's and #2's combined) left to sell.  Pecans have sold out until the new crop starts in mid-Nov.