Tyler, TX (KETK) — Berry picking is an activity East Texans look forward to each year. However, many will need to reevaluate their spring plans, because the late freezes will cause a delayed and shorter blackberry and blueberry season.
For farmers like Ronny Wells, from Wells Berry Farm, 75 percent of berry crops have already been lost for the second year in a row. Wells said, "It was below freezing 20 to 24 hours that whole day. So it takes all the oxygen away from that bloom, and there's just nothing anyone can do about it". For berries that did survive, the season will not begin at the end of May. Now, it will likely start mid-June. Wells said, "That's real unusual to lose a blueberry crop in East Texas. I mean I've never seen it until last year. So for two in a row, we're hoping we don't have a third one". So now the berry season will last about six weeks, rather than the usual ten or eleven.
Wells said this will not likely increase retail prices, but will cost more for farmers to harvest. He explains, "They won't really be higher, but they may be harder to find late in the season or at least late in the day when people may run out of them". The shortage of berries could be because plants that normally produce 300 pounds of berries, are now only creating 30 pounds. Wells said they plan on having enough berries for their retail markets, but not enough for their wholesale markets.