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Crabtree's Pick-Your-Own Highbush Blueberries

703 Bridgton Road (Route 107)

Sebago, ME 04029-3344

Phone (207) 787-2730

E-Mail crabtree@crabcoll.com

[Blueberry Home Page] [Directions] [Hours and Prices]

[About Blueberries] [Blueberry Recipes] [Getting Ready for Blueberry Season] [ PYO Blueberries]

[Water for the Blueberries] [The Quiet Seasons] [E-mail ] [Crabtree's Collection Home Page]

 

 

 

Closed for the Season

Gleaners are welcome

 

We closed for the picking season on Sunday, 15 September.  As we usually do, however, we left the buckets hanging on the shed and welcome anyone who would like to glean some of the last berries on the bushes to do so for free.

 

There are still some Elliott late variety berries left, but it is harder picking as they slowly get picked out.  There are still berries ripening on the bushes and we’ll have Elliotts for a short while.

 

Spraying Advisory – we will continue to spray for the Spotted Wing Drosophila fruit fly that has come to Maine with our changing climate, and will be running our “trap line” to see what the numbers of this pest are.  When we spray, we ask that you do not go into the blueberry patch to pick for at least 24 hours after spraying.

 

We sprayed Tuesday, 17 Sept, so please no picking until Thursday, 19 Sept.  Thank you. When you do pick, we recommend that you wash the berries before eating them.

 

At the time when the bees finished pollinating the berry set looked like one of the best we’ve had.  However, mother nature did not cooperate this year.  We opened as we usually do on the third Saturday in July, the same day as our Sebago Days festival.  This year, however, we only had 6 rows that were ripe to pick instead of all our early varieties.

 

Then we were hit with several very  hot and sunny days the early varieties ripened seemingly overnight and the picking was glorious – until the continuing hot weather resulted in over-ripe, soft berries that fell off the bushes.  I figure we lost about 3 weeks of picking the early varieties this year because of it.

 

This is all part of the uncertainties of farming, and the season this year will not be one of our best.  There is always next year and I appreciate all of you faithful and enthusiastic pickers who have visited us this year.

 

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Spotted Wing Drosophila are back!

 

While out picking blueberries you may have noticed some of the red SOLO cups hanging on green metal posts scattered around the blueberry farm.  These are traps designed to monitor the presence of an unwelcome new pest that has arrived in Maine, thanks to global warming.  They are baited with apple cider vinegar and collect insects drawn to them.

 

The Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) has been moving into Maine over the last five years as the climate has changed and is something we’ve never had to deal with here – we were too far north!  This small fruit fly has the annoying habit of laying its eggs in ripe fruit.  The eggs then hatch into white larvae which consume the fruit.   

 

We run the “trapline” every week and count the number of SWD captured in the traps.  The Agricultural Extension Service has similar traps on farms around the state and send us a weekly report of SWD findings.  So far, the numbers in our traps have been very small, but we have found a few ripe berries with the white larvae in them which means that there are some SWD at work in the berry patch.  Untreated, the entire crop could be lost.  

We spray once a week using primarily Spinosad, a natural insecticide.  Spinosad is a relatively new insecticide that is made up of two complex organic compounds that are produced by certain microbes that were first discovered in soil found at an abandoned rum factory.  Spinosad is a broad-spectrum, organic insecticide. The term "broad-spectrum" means that it is toxic to a wide variety of insects. It is, however, relatively non-toxic to mammals and beneficial insects, and has a short retention time on the berries.

 

 

 

Here is a video of our blueberry farm that we had done to show it off.


 

2019 - Status of Varieties

Blue Crop – Picked Out
Berkeley – Picked Out
Jersey – Picked Out

Blue Gold – Picked Out

Little Giant – Picked Out

Elliott – A few berries left

 

 

Blueberries and Old Books?

We added a feature to our Crabtree's Collection Old Books website in 2001 and every summer offer Pick-Your-Own Blueberries at our Maine Farmhouse. Stories about of our blueberry operation are linked to this page below. Check out the pictures of our place.

The first varieties of our highbush blueberries ripen around mid-July, and we then open our Pick-Your-Own Blueberry (PYO) operation to the public for the picking season. If you have been following the Maine Farmhouse Journals you know how pleased and proud we are of our old place here (see Bears in the Blueberry Bushes), and the PYO Blueberry operation gives us a chance to share a part of our experience with all of you.

Click on these links to get directions to the farm, our hours of operation and prices, information about the history of blueberries, and tips on picking and storing blueberries as well as links to several blueberry recipe websites. Getting Ready for Blueberry Season tells about some of the work that goes into having big, juicy blueberries for picking. We also have pictures showing what the blueberry patch looks like during the Quiet Seasons of autumn and winter.

When we purchased the Farmhouse in August 1998, one of the bonus features was the extensive mature plantings of highbush blueberries in the side field. The former owner, Dot, had planted and nurtured hundreds of highbush blueberry bushes. They are now 37 years old, and bear sweet, juicy blueberries the size of your thumb. The chest-high bushes almost bend over under the weight of clusters of berries.

Since 1998 we have more than doubled the size of the berry patch with new plantings and now have 1,500 bushes. We have also installed a drip irrigation system and pamper the bushes with annual pruning, fertilizer twice a year, and regular weeding and mowing. Our policy has been not to use any pesticides on our bushes and encourage people to each the berries right from the bushes to add to their experience. However, with the advent of climate change a new invasive fruitfly has migrated into the patch from the south that we've never had in Maine, forcing us to spray toward the end of the picking season with an organic pesticide. We'll post a notice when we have to do this, and then will recommend washing the fruit before eating. Sorry!

We opened the berry patch as a Pick-your-own operation in 2001 and it has become a wonderful experience for hundreds of families every summer. The picking is easy, and the berries are wonderful. There are several different varieties that ripen at different times during the summer, so there are blueberries to pick from mid-July until the end of September most years. We look forward to seeing you during the summer picking season - watch this page to see when the different varieties of highbush blueberries are ripe and ready to pick!

Please call us if you have any questions or suggestions, and we hope to see you at Crabtree's PYO Highbush Blueberries.

We are listed with the State of Maine "Get Real Maine" for PYO Blueberries in Cumberland County.

We are also listed on under Regional Attractions - "Maine Lakes and Mountains Region".

Allen and Penny Crabtree
(207) 787-2730

[Blueberry Home Page] [Directions] [Hours and Prices]

[About Blueberries] [Blueberry Recipes] [Getting Ready for Blueberry Season]
[Colby's Letter to Camp Laurel] [ PYO Blueberries]

[Water for the Blueberries] [The Quiet Seasons] [E-mail ] [Crabtree's Collection Home Page]


Maine Blueberry banner and Sebago Map created by Allen F. Crabtree IV

This page was last updated Sept 17, 2019.

Copyright © 2002 - 2019 by Allen Crabtree