A Berry Good Time In Poplarville

It's blueberry harvest time once again in Mississippi, and that always means it's time for the annual Blue Berry Festival in Poplarville. This weekend's Jubilee is expected to draw hundreds of people. The blueberry crop took a major hit this year but blueberry farmers say with the help of high tech farming blueberry prices should remain the same.

With more than 20-thousand blue berry bushes Luis Monterde is considered one of the largest blueberry farmers in South Mississippi. He describes this year's blueberry crop as marginal to poor. A hard freeze in March wiped out much of the State's crop. Luis Monterde, Owner of B & M Blueberry Farm told WLOX NEWS, "From Lamar County North and West the damage was 50 percent or more. There are very few farmers that have a full crop this year.." He says the good news is the blueberries that did survive are plump, sweet and juicy. And the demand for blueberries is way up. "For the top 40 fruits and vegetables tested for anti oxidants blueberries come in the top. It's not just any more a fruit for pleasure it's a fruit for health the demand has grown tremendously nationwide." Monterde owns the only certified blue berry packing plant in the state. The state of the art facility processed more than 700-thousand pounds of blueberries last year and is expected to turn out about half that number this year because of the freeze.

But Monterde says it's high tech equipment like this that helps keep the price of blue berries down. "This is a color sorter it has the ability to look at the berries as they come through and if those berries are not blue it removes them. " He says consumers can expect to pay between two-and-a-half and three dollars per pint for blueberries this year, and that's about average he says, thanks to high tech blue berry farming.. You can sample some of this year's crop at the Blueberry Jubilee which is Saturday in Downtown Poplarville from 8 am to 3 PM .