Signs pointing to bountiful blueberry season this year
SUDBURY -- One blueberry buyer in Sudbury says he expects a good season this year, with signs of bountiful berries starting to pop in the low lying bushes.
"This year should be a good season, despite the frost we had at the beginning of June," said Wayne Maillet, operations manager of Canadian Wild Fruit.
"We had a decent winter and an early thaw, which always helps. No caterpillars, which really helps us a lot."
Maillet is busy these days setting up his depot where he buys blueberries. He said he's hopeful pickers will put safety first.
"If you are picking in a group or if you are picking alone, make sure to keep social distancing in mind," he said. "If you see a lineup, wait in your vehicle. Same goes if you are buying blueberries on the side of the road or selling blueberries on the side of the road."
Wendy Racicot and her father, Tony James, have been picking blueberries for more than 20 years.
"Got laid off of work and that so I decided, well, I'll try blueberry picking," Racicot said. "I do enjoy it. I am a wanderer. I wander through, come across a couple of bears, right, but I do enjoy it."
The father and daughter say they love getting out in nature.
"I will give one word of warning to people: if you've got a bad back, bad knees or you don't like heat, stay out of the bush," said James with a chuckle.
The experienced pickers want others to respect nature.
"Do carry your garbage out of the bush, don't leave junk around the bush -- it's not nice to see to begin with," said Racicot.
James said he came upon a big bear and her two cubs one day. He slowly made his way to his car and found a new spot to pick blueberries.
"It looks like we are going to be getting some new pickers out this year, and be very, very careful," James said. "Bears … let's face it, you are picking in their backyard, not yours. And they are entitled to be there, you are entitled to be there, too. Be wary about them."
Maillet of Canadian Wild Fruit said picking the tiny berries is hard work, but the return can be sweet.
"People have been picking blueberries for decades, some people are starting out new," he said. "Last year I had a six year old girl bring in over $60 worth of blueberries she picked herself."
Maillet said the blueberry picking season generally starts around Canada Day and runs through until the end of August.