Rocky Point Blueberry Farm picker

Picking our blueberries

Containers? When you visit our farm during the picking season, you can bring your own containers if you wish, or use the containers we provide, free. We provide a four-quart bucket and a two-quart bucket with a plastic bag in it. When you come out, we pull out the bag and weigh the berries, you pay and take the bag of berries home. You can, of course, fill as many buckets as you wish. Our large buckets hold about 6 lbs of berries, the small buckets hold about 3 lbs of berries.

Quality Control. When you pick yourself, you control the quality. If you want only sweet, ripe berries, you can pick carefully to get only those. If you want to include some nearly ripe but still tart ones, for flavor, you can do so. If you want to pick a lot in a hurry, you can pick rapidly and sort the berries when you get home. In any case, you know when they were picked, unlike the berries picked in New Jersey or Michigan, perhaps two weeks ago, and shipped in.

Does it matter whether we pick at the beginning or end of the season? At the beginning of the season, berries are more plentiful and larger, but you have to be more careful not to get unripe berries. At the end of the season, you may have to walk further to find bushes with berries, but they are more likely to be ripe; however, some may be beginning to turn soft. Mid-season is the easiest time to pick for beginners.

Children and Pets? We are glad to have children pick blueberries when accompanied and supervised by an adult. However, for the sake of our bushes and our customers we do not allow children to run and play in the blueberry patch as though it were a playground. If your children pick green or red berries, don't throw them away before checking out; if left on the bush, they would ripen for others to pick. We are very happy when parents teach their children about which berries are good for picking. Please remember when planning a trip to the farm, that the field can get very hot. If your children are unhappy because they are too hot or because they are tired of picking, we encourage you to take a break at one of our shaded picnic tables and to get a cup of cold water from our dispenser. We also provide a clean porta potty for your convenience, which is located near the farm gate. We do not allow pets in the blueberry field. Dogs on a leash are only allowed in the grassy areas around the field. Please do not leave your dog unattended while you are picking.

Where to pick? We don't restrict you to a certain area, but ask you to go to the area and the bushes that suit you. We will advise you where the best picking is or give more detailed advice if asked. A central path takes you through the middle of the patch, and from there you can easily make your way up and down the rows (please don't push through bushes to get to another row, if bushes are thick use the path or ends of rows). As the season progresses, you need to go deeper into the patch and farther toward the ends of the rows to find bushes with the easiest picking. Don't be misled by the first bushes you see as you enter; they are the youngest and smallest. The older bushes grow to six or seven feet or more.

When is the farm open? During the picking season, we are open 7 days a week from 7 am to 12 noon, and we are also open on Thursday evenings from 4 pm until dusk, for those who want to pick in the evening.

What if it rains? We almost always stay open when it rains. Unless there is a torrential downpour going on, we will be open.

Don't know how to pick? If you have never picked blueberries, look for the berries that have a dark blue circle where the stem attaches to the berry. A ripe berry will also come off in your hand easily with a gentle tug or tickle. Look down into the bush and also up high. The easiest berries, located right at eye level get picked first. After that you will need to bend and stretch to find the “jack pots!” Some people like to put their bucket down and pick All the ripe berries on One bush, before moving on. This is the Fastest way to fill your bucket. If you spend a lot of time walking around from bush to bush, you will not be picking as many berries. To reach the lowest parts of the bush it is an excellent idea to bring a small stool or sturdy bucket to sit on. The bushes located close to the stand get picked a lot by customers as they come and go from the field, so spread out and walk to a less traveled area to find the bushes with more fruit on them. We also have areas that are shady. They are located near the edges of the field near the tall trees and are great places to go when it is hot.

Can I eat the berries without washing them? We recommend that you wash your berries before eating them. If you want to taste “A FEW” for ripeness, that is fine. We do need to spray the berries with a non organic chemical a few times during the harvest season, as there is currently a very damaging fruit fly that we are trying to control which does not respond to organic chemical control. We use an Integrated Pest Management System and spray only when absolutely needed to protect the crop. Because of our low pesticide use policy you may find some pests in your blueberries. Any pests which you find in your berries are completely harmless to you, although they will damage the berry they are living in. When you get home with your berries, remove any soft, squishy berries and dispose of them in an airtight bag, as they could be harboring a developing fruit fly. If you want to freeze your berries, wash them, then dry them out on paper towels before placing them in the freezer. Include a dry paper towel in the container you use to freeze your berries to help absorb any excess moisture. You may also freeze your berries in a single layer on a cookie sheet, then pour them into an airtight container for storage. Always refrigerate your berries in an airtight container to help keep them fresh.

Are we an organic farm?
We are not an organic farm. We are an Integrated Pest Management Farm. We do use organic pest control products in the spring and early summer to control winter moth caterpillars and cranberry and cherry fruit worms. We use a non organic fertilizer (ammonium sulphate) and a non organic fungicide (Switch) in the spring before the berries turn blue. There is a fruit fly (Spotted Wing Drosophila) that arrives in July that cannot be controlled effectively in Rhode Island with any organic products currently available, due to our climate of high humidity and warm temperatures, which is the perfect breeding ground for SWD. Consequently, we spray with a non organic, commercial pesticide, of which we carry a special license to use, from early July through all of August to control the SWD fruit fly. The product is called Mustang Max, it is a Zeta-cypermethrin pesticide in the Pyrethroid category. The spray has a 1 day pre harvest interval, which means it is ok to pick the berries 24 hours after spraying them, and it is a very effective control for the SWD fruit fly, although it is not 100% effective. There will still be some fruit fly activity in our field, and you should check your berries carefully for soft concave indentations or tiny, wet pin holes that could indicate the presence of an SWD egg. The spray can be easily washed off with water. Refrigerating your berries will also stop any SWD eggs from developing within the fruit after it is picked. The eggs are microscopic in size, but after 5 - 7 days, they develop into tiny white larva which then turn into a fruit fly. By the time the larva develops it will have ruined the blueberry and if not picked it will fall off the bush. These fruit flies multiply at an amazing rate. One female fruit fly can lay up to 100 eggs a week for up to 2 weeks. It is a devastating pest that has invaded the entire US and areas that have weather similar to Rhode Island are among the hardest hit in the country. Many small blueberry and raspberry farms that do not have the resources or inclination to spray for this pest have gone out of business in the last few years, as the pest can completely ruin a crop in a matter of weeks if it is not controlled. As much as we would like to be an organic farm, it is currently not feasible with the SWD fruit fly problem. Please contact your local government officials to ask for more funding to research improved control methods of this invasive pest.

Why does a bush have both ripe and green berries? The picking season for each variety lasts several weeks. Early in the season, the first ripe berries appear on the outside of clusters. Later you have to look inside the bush and under the clusters for the ripest berries. On varieties with long, limber stalks, such as Blue Ray and Blue Crop, the branches may droop clear to the ground and have to be lifted for picking.