Farmers: Come pick blueberries -- please!

- There's no doubt about it. The Bay Area had an unseasonably warm winter this year. While that might have meant more trips to the beach, it resulted in some struggles for area blueberry farmers.

"Blueberries need a certain amount of chill hours; any temperature below 45 degrees," explained Ben Futch of Futch Family Farms in Polk City. "We didn't receive this when we needed it back in November, December, and January. So this has caused for our fruit to become late."

Late fruit causes a problem for farmers in Florida. They missed the opportunity to sell to grocery stores. These stores end up buying blueberries from other states such as Georgia, or they go out of the country.

"We now have an abundance of Florida fruit," Futch continued. "It's not making its way to grocery stores, your local supermarkets. It's here in Florida, but it's not in the stores."

So farmers such as Futch have no choice but to offer their blueberries at an extreme discount, as long as you come and pick them yourself.  Right now, Futch is selling blueberries at $12 for a gallon, or $20 for two gallons.

Rita Doles came to Fucht Family Farms on Monday to pick her own blueberries for the first time.

"I tasted the tart ones and the sweet ones," she said. "They're so sweet.  They really are!"

"It's a fraction of the cost, it's better for you, and it's definitely here this year," remarked Futch.

Futch Family Farms normally ends their you-pick season at the end of May. However, this year, they plan to keep it going through June.

If you want to check them out, they're located at 12500 Old Grade Rd in Polk City. Their you-pick hours are 9 a.m. to dusk, seven days a week.

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