U-Pick Blueberries are Comin' Up!

U-Pick blueberries will be here soon!

We will start Thursday, June 25th.  We will be open Thursday thru Saturdays, 9am to 4pm this year. 

We have a large field of Bluecrop blueberries.  They are our sweetest and biggest berries.  Located off of Brooklake Rd a 1/4 mile east of the only traffic light in downtown Brooks (99E and Brooklake Rd.  If you see a blueberry field covered with netting, that is the one!)

Our commercial blueberries we started picking Friday which is crazy earlier than normal.  We are all ready though so it is not a major stress.  Plus it is so wonderful each time we get those blueberries off the bushes!  We have a year's worth of time and money investment into those little things so the last few weeks can get a little stressful thinking of all the things that could go wrong right before you can get them picked.

My daughter got to pick her first blueberry this year!  At first she didn't seem to believe me that she could eat one.  But after I popped one into my mouth, she couldn't stop eating them it seemed!

We also put our blueberry net up again for the year over 10 acres of berries.  Each year we get a little better idea how to put it up faster.

The u-pick apples are about the size of a golf ball right now!  They are growing well, trying to get prepared for all you visitors in the fall!

We are also growing Radish Seed, Kale Seed, Tall Fescue grass seed, and Corn this year.  Our combine will be busy this year!

Miss all the activity you guys bring when you come to pick our apples!  But this year has flown by already so I know the fall will be here in no time.

Hope you are enjoying the summer so far!

I apologize for the layout of the words today.  I'm having lots of trouble with the formatting lately.  It seems like it has a mind of his own.  But I wanted to get the information out to you!

What do we do all winter?....Continued...

It is the new year already!  We are enjoying the winter with the slower pace. Today we attended an all day meeting educating us about all the plant production product label updates.  The speakers share about research trials that have been done that show what products work best for weeds, disease, etc for the crops grown in the Willamette Valley.  We also learned about updates from the Oregon Department of Agriculture about what is coming down the line in the legislature and other government regulations about rules that will affect farmers.  Sometimes it gets pretty overwhelming all the regulations that farmers have to comply with.   I wish farmers and neighbors, and community in general could just work things out between themselves instead of having to have all these rules that come with so much paperwork.   I know I am just dreaming though because this is not a perfect world.

pruning more Lazaro pruning




























We have 6 employees out pruning our blueberries.  It takes them about 3 months to prune all the blueberries which is nice for them so they can have year-round work.  Next they go prune the apples.   Every year we have to decide how aggressive to prune the blueberries.  If we prune really hard we will get fewer but bigger berries but if we prune too light, then we will have lots of really small berries which is not the best.   So we usually shoot for the middle ground.

When we start pruning a blueberry bush, the first thing we do is look at the base of the plant and see if there are any new growth whips that are too small to keep.  We cut them off at the ground.  Next we look to the middle of the bush.  It is important for blueberries to have light and air flow in the middle of the bush (plus makes it easier to pick later) so we take out any branches that cross through the middle horizontally or thin out any areas in the middle that are really compact with branches.   It is most efficient to identify if there are any whole stems/branches you can cut out first because you might as well not thin the top of the plant, then decide later, that you want to take out that whole stem and branch anyway.  Next we look to the top of the bush and thin that out.

before pruning Liberty

liberty before pruning 2014-2015



























bb pruning



The picture to the left is of a branch that has not been pruned yet.  The very end of the branch needs pruned off because it is a brown dead branch anyway.  Then next we would have to decide how many shoots off the main branch we would take off.  Since these are Liberty blueberries and our goal this year is to grow our plants bigger, we would prune some of those side branches off.  Hopefully the plant will not have to share so much energy with producing all the small berries,  that some of the energy can go into plant growth. Also, the smaller the thickness of the side branch, the less size of fruit it will produce, so we take those off first.   Hopefully all this makes sense.  Hard to explain when I can't point exactly at things.

liberty blueberries















It also depends on how hard you prune by what variety of blueberry you have.  We have 3 different varieties and each is different.  In our Dukes, that are finicky to grow, if we get any new growth from the bottom we are lucky, so we DO NOT cut it off because it is precious.  But in a Liberty blueberry field, we have tons of new shoots (growth) coming from the bottom so we will be more aggressive and take quite a bit off.

We also had our blueberry fields limed recently.  If you were to see the fields, you would have thought it snowed!  I don't know if you have ever driven by some open dirt fields and they are covered in white and you wonder what it is.  They have been limed too.  Lime is a naturally occurring product that farmers apply to keep their fields at a pH that is best for their specific crops.  Blueberries are very picky about what pH the soil needs to be at in order to grow well.

We usually apply lime if we change the  crop we grow on our land.  For instance, when we are growing grass seed, those fields usually stay in at least 3 years so for 3 years we don't have a chance to apply lime.  So the year that grass field is taken out, we would apply lime that year because we have the chance to incorporate it into the soil.

blueberry lime















Between educational meetings, checking on the blueberry pruning, and making decisions for the coming season, we also like to do some organizing around the farm in the winter.  This year we are focusing on our storage areas.  With farming, there are so many diverse things we do and we have extra parts or leftover supplies from everything.  We are always trying to figure out ways to organize it well, or what things can we get rid of or will need in the future.  And what things we should get rid of or keep is always debatable between the generations :)

Speaking of organizing, I better get back at it!




Another year in the books.

Thank you for all your business this year!  It was another great season meeting you all.  Thank you for all the word of mouth advertising you do for us.  You guys are pretty great.   Too quiet around here now without you all :)

We are starting to brainstorm for improvements for next year.  Please feel free to leave a comment or email BeilkeFF@gmail.com if you have any suggestions :)

So what will we do all winter??

Dad winter planning
















With apple season over with, things slow down a little here.  Time to catch our breath and be thankful all our crops are in for the year.  Then soon after, next year's planning starts.  We look back over each crop we grew and brainstorm ways to make it go better next year , more efficient and try to learn from any mistakes.  We also do a final tally of how the crops turned our financially to help make decisions.  Then we sit down and figure out our "winter list", which is a list of things on our equipment that need fixed or improved.

Then we think of capital purchases like tractors, more efficient blueberry sprinklers, add drip irrigation, irrigation pump repairs, sprayers, etc that we would need to improve the farm.  To keep it moving forward instead of backwards.  My dad is good about thinking long term and big picture.  He likes to make a dream list if we had all the money in the world, what we would do.  Then we whiddle it down to what can we actually afford and what is dire and most important for long term plus short term.

For each crop there are many things to think about:  Why are we growing this crop?  Is it worth it to grow this crop- financially and time and effort?  Do we have a rotation to keep this crop?  Do we trust the people we grow for so we will get paid?  What capital purchases in the future will we have to make to continue growing this crop?  What is the future of the crop for price and demand.  Etc, etc.

Then we have to decide where we will grow each crop on the fields we have.  It isn't the best to grow the same crop, year after year in the same spot.  Corn can be grown 2 years in the same field but only if you have to because your yield goes down.  Our vegetable seeds can't be grown again on the same land for 10-15 years because they can cross pollinate with weeds that maybe can't be controlled and the crop would be ruined.  Some crops don't get harvested until later in the season, like corn, so there is too short of time before the rains start to plant fall planted crops, like grass seed.  Anyway, my point is that you really have to do planning so you don't get yourself in a pickle.

Besides all the planning, we also start in on pruning the blueberries and later in the winter, the apples.  We also have to do mouse baiting in all the fields, so the voles won't eat our precious crop roots and trap for moles and gophers so our fields aren't destroyed.  Sometime we need to apply lime to our apples and blueberries depending on the pH.  We also attend LOTS of agricultural educational meetings.

I have a picture of a mole we caught and I'm so tempted to post it on here but I don't want to gross anyone out :)  So I will resist!

So that is what we are up to!  I will post a few pictures here and there through out the winter so you guys can see if we are being productive or not :)