Expect fields of blue despite cold temperatures

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Blueberry farmers across Southeastern North Carolina are ready for a busy and prosperous season despite long spells of chilly temperatures earlier in the year.

Many experts believe there will be a bumper crop of blueberries, which means an excess of the small blue fruit.

Jeff Morris, owner of Carol Sue Blueberry Farm in Pender County, said he is optimistic about his crops chances.

"We think we are going to have a good year," said Morris. "We think that the price is going to be good. We think that mother nature is going to cooperate. We think that we are going to have a lot of labor show up from the Georgia area, and we will see. Things are falling into place nicely and it is going to happen like it happens."

Morris said that farmers have a lot to worry about when preparing their crop, and that a lot of planning and science is needed to protect the fruit.

"Last year we had a freeze there in late March where it got down into the low twenties," said Morris. "It was windy, and we couldn't frost protect like we normally do with our pumps. This year we didn't really have the bad freeze, but we just had prolonged windy and damp weather, and that means the bees didn't fly."

North Carolina is the sixth-largest producer of blueberries in the nation.

Morris said the fruit is a part of the community.

"We have folks in Maple Hill that worked at this farm 50 years ago, now their grand kids are coming out to help," he said. "I don't know how many hundreds or thousands of jobs it creates, but I know it is a very important part to our neck of the woods out here and to all of coastal North Carolina.'

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