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Local blueberry crop suffering due to adverse weather conditions

While workers have been busy picking and packing blueberries, it's much less than years past. Gustafson said the recent heavy rains have been a problem. Then the stretch of cold days took a hit on the crop, too. (WCTI/Nicole Griffin)

BRIDGETON, N.C. (WCTI) - It's few fruits currently for their labor.

Blueberry farmers in our area are suffering this year, thanks, unfortunately, to prolonged freezing this winter and heavy rains this spring.

At Nelson's Blueberry Farm in Bridgeton, farmers are trying to pick whatever blueberries they can after what they say has been a very rough year for harvest. Debbie Nelson Gustafson, who has been growing blueberries for 25 years, is watching over her crop and said it's been a struggle so far.

"This one has been hectic, just picking between the rain showers and finding a time we could pick berries," Gustafson said. "As far as I'm concerned, this is the worst crop that I've had to deal with. It's just been a nightmare, especially with all the water."

While workers have been busy picking and packing blueberries, it's much less than years past. Gustafson said the recent heavy rains have been a problem. Then the stretch of cold days took a hit on the crop, too.

"Water in berries is terrible," Gustafson said. "A terrible combination and we've had a whole lot of water, so it hindered us getting in the field, getting the berries picked, getting them picked in a timely fashion because you can't pick wet blueberries.

"In January, when it stayed under freezing for five or six or seven days in a row, it actually did kill some of the buds," Gustafson said.

The winter conditions hurt spring pollination. Then the rains came.

"The bees could not pollinate because we had a really windy April and May," Gustafson said. "So, the bees, below a certain degree, or when its too windy, will not come out of their hives. So, I think another factor was pollination."

The farms are going to do their very best to make sure they have enough berries for the Bridgeton Blueberry Festival. They are also hoping the late crop produces better results.

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