Home The Latest Rain has been berry, berry bad

Rain has been berry, berry bad

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BY JOSEY BARTLETT

Summer officially started this week, finally. This month has set a record for the wettest June ever and it isn’t over yet. The same cool, gray weather that has been depriving us of vitamin D is also  really cutting into berry farm revenue.

“We are down 50% right now in profits. I’m not worried about the economy as much as I’m about the weather,” says Don Wachlin, owner of Schlichting Century Farm in Sherwood.

“It’s a tough year. It is anticipated that yields will be down,” says Dr. Bernadine Strik, professor of horticulture at Oregon State University.

Oregon’s berry business is sizable — in 2008 the crops had a farm value of $140 million. With 8,000 acres of blackberries, Oregon is the largest blackberry producer in the nation. The forecast is for smaller yields this year because of the cold and rain.

Oregon strawberriesThe strawberry harvest is usually done during a 14- to 28-day period in mid-June.  But the coolest May in 116 years and the June rain is creating an under-ripe and rotting crop. Also, the thick mud in the fields is sinking the usual harvesting machinery so some farms are using their older but lighter harvesting tools that farmers thought they had retired for good.

Blueberry farms also are facing challenges from rain, hail and green rot. It takes seven to eight years for blueberry plants to mature, making it the most expensive Oregon berry crop. A few years ago demand was up and farmers planted up a storm. These farms are all reaching maturity at the same time and profits are falling because of an over-supplied market. A crappy weather year is exactly what these farmers didn’t need.

Not only has the rain delayed ripening and stalled profits, but farmers must replant strawberries and some vegetables, which also eats into profits. “Usually the crops would be planted, but they aren’t. So now we will be playing catch up,” says Joe Casale, owner of Joe Casale & Son farm in Aurora.

Wholesale farms can tell their employees to work in the rain if the crop is ripe, but U-pick farms find it harder to motivate the public in crummy weather.  “U-pickers don’t want to come in the mud,” says Cheryl Boden, president of Tri-County Farm Fresh Produce, a 64-farm U-pick organization.

But Johnny Kondilis, owner of U-pick farm Bella Organic in Portland, is a bit more optimistic. “It’s just postponing profits,” he says. “Everything just got pushed back a bit.”

Josey Bartlett is an associate writer for Oregon Business.

 

More Articles

What I'm Reading

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014

The CEO of Axiom EPM, Peri Pierone, and the co-founder of McMenamins, Mike McMenamin, share their recent reads.


Read more...

Powerlist: Credit Unions

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
BY KIM MOORE

A conversation about credit unions with the CEOs of Advantis Credit Union and OSU Federal Credit Union, followed by June's Powerlist.


Read more...

The Scott Kveton affair

News
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
ScottKvetonBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.


Read more...

Interview: Dr. Mark Goulston

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 10, 2014
JustListenBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Dr. Mark Goulston, author of Just Listen, Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone.


Read more...

Proceed with caution

June 2014
Thursday, May 29, 2014
0614leadersBY COURTNEY SHERWOOD

Business and civic leaders weigh the risks and rewards of going green.


Read more...

100 Best Green Companies Keynote Speech

News
Friday, May 30, 2014

green2014-069Watch the 2014 100 Best Green Companies keynote speech by Eric Friedenwald-Fishman.


Read more...

The role of higher education as K-12 underperforms

Contributed Blogs
Friday, May 30, 2014
ThumbChalkboardBY DEBRA RINGOLD | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Since 1970 the performance of our public education system has steadily deteriorated.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS