Mid-Columbia blueberries ripe for the picking

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJune 28, 2014 

A warm spring has ripened blueberries early, which means some Mid-Columbia U-picks may have fruit for only a few weeks more.

That's good news, though, for people eager to pick their own sweet berries for munching, baking or freezing.

"The berries are a little bit smaller but they are super-duper sweet," said Deborah Davis of Berry Blue Farms in Burbank. And the plants are full.

Davis said she isn't sure how much longer her U-pick will be open, so customers should check the farm's Facebook page for current information.

Visitors should bring a bucket to pick.

Bill's Berry Farm near Grandview will be celebrating blueberries with its annual Blueberry Daze festival Friday and Saturday.

In addition to being able to pick blueberries, raspberries and maybe cherries, visitors to the farm will find antique and craft vendors, a petting zoo, horse and pony rides.

Larelle Michener, oldest daughter of farm owners Bill and Julie Michener, said they also will have a barbecue, doughnuts and an ice cream stand offering sundaes with homemade waffle bowls and fresh fruit from the field.

Typically, 1,200 people come for the festival, she said.

Bill's Berry Farm started U-pick for blueberries on June 14.

Michener said this year they have a new variety called Chandler, but the harvest will be light because this is the first year the bushes are producing.

The blueberries probably will all be picked by mid-July, but Michener said they hope to expand their season in the future with the new variety.

Bill's Berry Farm provides buckets, but pickers should bring boxes to take their fruit home, Michener said.

When picking blueberries, Michener said people should make sure berries are all the way blue, not green or purple.

Blueberries don't ripen on the counter like some other fruits.

Each cluster on a bush will have some blueberries that are ripe and some that aren't quite there yet, she said.

Plan to freeze blueberries? The experts suggest not washing the berries until after defrosting them.

First-timers can ask for advice. Check the farms' Facebook pages for up-to-date availability on fruit.

-- To submit business news, go to bit.ly/bizformtch.

-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

Applegate Orchards

Blueberry U-Pick of Burbank

Address: 1052 Lake Road, Burbank.

Open: Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $3 per pound U-pick, $4 if they pick

Contact: facebook.com/ApplegateOrchardsBlueberryUPick; 509-547-4276.

Berry Blue Farms of Burbank

Directions: Take Highway 12 toward Burbank and Walla Walla, turn right after the Snake River Bridge and cross the highway onto Highway 124 toward Waitsburg, take a left on Emerald Road after mile marker 4. Continue down the dirt road and follow signs to the farm.

Open: Monday through Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., closed Saturday, Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Cost: $2 a pound for U-pick, $3.50 per pint at Southridge, Pasco, Walla Walla, Connell and 3-Eyed Fish farmers markets.

Contact: facebook.com/BerryBlueFarm

Bill's Berry Farm of Grandview

Address: 3674 N. County Line Road, Grandview.

Open: Monday through Thursday 7 to 10 a.m. and 4 to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: Blueberries and raspberries are $2.50 a pound; cherries are $1.75 per pound for red and $2.75 a pound for Rainiers.

Contact: facebook.com/billsberryfarm; info@billsberryfarm.com; www.billsberryfarm.com; 509-882-3200

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