P.E.I. blueberry grower sees major crop loss after harsh fall and spring

It's been generally a smooth and successful road for Tryon Blueberries U-Pick with lots of customers and berries — until this year. 

The highbush blueberry grower, located in central P.E.I., attributes a harsh fall and spring for what it is calling a "significant loss" of crops.

The berries will be ready in time for the start to the season. But it's quantity that has co-owner Jennifer Murray concerned. 

"That's where we have to decide what we're going to do," she said.

The U-pick operation is closed until at least September, according to its Facebook page.

The business draws many Islanders and visitors from away each year, but Murray worries about having enough supply this year.

"We only have 20 to 30 per cent of the amount of berries that we had last year due to weather conditions in the past season," she said. 

That's approximately a 70 to 80 per cent loss in crops. There still may be a chance for the other varieties still ripening, Murray said. 

"It's disappointing for us and it's disappointing for the customer ... because everyone has a love for our berries," Murray said. 

She suspects last fall's poor weather conditions, specifically the frost and wet conditions, are to blame.

Tryon U-Pick/Facebook

The P.E.I. Wild Blueberry Growers Association agrees. 

Compared to previous years, the wild blueberry crop on the Island is looking average, said Patrick Byrne, president of the association. 

Highbush berries on the Island are more likely to have been impacted by the spring and fall's poor weather, he said. 

However, highbush blueberries represent a small percentage of blueberry crops on P.E.I. It could be even less than five per cent, Byrne said.  

It's not all about the blueberries, it's about the customer service, too. — Jennifer Murray

While this year's crop has been disappointing for the business, Murray remains optimistic for next year. 

"We're 100 per cent sure that we will ... get over this," she said. 

For her, the most difficult aspect of the bad crop has been the prospect of disappointing her customers. 

"We take great pride in what we do and to have that happen ... it's very sad.

"It's not all about the blueberries, it's about the customer service, too. And I think that's why I get so emotional. How do you say no to someone who just loves your berries?" 

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