Bizzare weather twists are causing many challenges for berry growers in Whatcom County this year. Besides a high amount of the crop being lost to rot, the strawberry season was cut short because the weather turned pickers away from working. Now as raspberry season unfolds, Randy Kraght of Barbie’s Berries explains what’s happening with Whatcom County’s top berry crop.
Kraght says that this is the wettest year he has seen in a long time. Just like with strawberries, rain causes the raspberries to mold. Kraght says that at times during the harvest’s first week or two, Barbie’s Berries crews had to throw out 50% or more of what they picked due to mold and the berries remaining softer than normal.
Barbie’s Berries, located off Willey’s Lake Road, has strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, and has a few stands in Lynden for fresh market purchase. Kraght, who has a background as both an agronomist and berry grower, remains optimistic, but still admits that this is one of the most challenging seasons he has had.
A major product of the raspberry crop in Whatcom County is Individual Quick Frozen (IQF) berries. These berries can be used in smoothies, pies, as a topping for ice cream, and more. The rain makes it nearly impossible to get the ideal structured berry for IQF.
The cooler weather also makes it hard for the berries to fall off the plant when shaken by the picking machines. Yet thankfully, mold tends to grow faster in warmer weather, making the cold weather we had both a blessing and a curse.
Kraght also looks forward to blueberry season, which will likely start within the next week for many Whatcom farmers. He is optimistic that warmer weather will help bring a successful end to raspberry season and a booming start for blueberry season.
Hear more of his expertise in his interview on the Farming Show: