VINCENT - Despite the hot, dry weather and late date in the summer, there are still berries to be picked in Washington County.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the majority of Washington County was under moderate drought conditions as of July 17, the most recent data available. Updated statistics will be released today.
But blackberries are nonetheless in season, and people can pick their own at Sweetapple Farm in Vincent and R & K Wagner Farms in Lowell.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Mariah Stollar, 16, picks blackberries at Sweetapple Farm in Vincent, which her family owns and where she works in the fall.
"(The dry weather) has not affected our berries," said Mona Barrett, manager of Sweetapple Farm. "They are loaded."
This is the second year Sweetapple has offered pick-your-own blackberries.
"They've been fun for us," Barrett said Wednesday as she watched her three granddaughters pick berries.
"This field, over the years, has had corn in it, has had alfalfa," she said.
Although she'd originally set evening hours for people to come pick, Barrett said some indicated they would rather do so in the morning. So the blackberry field, not far from the farm's entrance, is open all day. If a farm employee isn't there when someone comes, they're just asked to deposit their $4.50 for a "very full quart" in a jar.
Operating on the honor system has worked well for the farm in the past, Barrett said.
"That's how we started out," she said, referring to when her husband sold pumpkins in the mid-1990s and they sometimes wouldn't get paid until the next day.
There may even be some areas where wild blackberries are pickable, said Clif Little, agriculture educator with the Ohio State University Extension offices in Noble and Guernsey County. But they may not last long in the hot, dry weather.
"Get out there quick," he said.
In very dry weather, berries that don't get enough water may have a bitter taste, Little said. People wanting to sample wild blackberries should look in lower-lying areas that are a little more shaded, he said.
"The ones on higher ground are typically bitter and small," Little said.
Little said folks who go out to pick wild blackberries should watch out for ticks, yellow jackets and bees and, of course, only go on their own land or property where they have permission to pick.