Many blueberry farmers picking crop earlier than normal


BRIDGETON, Craven County - A warmer than usual winter means blueberries are ready for picking earlier than normal.

At Nelson Blueberry Farm in Bridgeton, not all of the blueberries were affected by the changing weather and early picking. But many of them are. Blueberry season usually starts around Memorial Day Weekend but owner Debbie Nelson Gustafson said the berries came a few weeks early because of the warmer weather this season, something she's not seen in at least five years. Back in March, a late freeze affected nearly half of her crop. She said that didn't hurt the crop too bad and her usual customers haven't adjusted to the fact their blueberries are ready to be sold. "And I'm sort of glad because we've got about half of a crop so my early berries got hurt by the freeze as well as my late variety," Gustafson said. "So I think it's going to be one of those years we'll be here and the next year we may not."