Best Time to Pick Blueberries
Blueberry season is here and cottagers across Canada and the United States are venturing out with their baskets, bear bells, and bug spray to collect their favourite wild berries.
Blueberry Picking is a Cottage Tradition
Wild blueberries might just be nature’s greatest treat, and many cottage families spend countless hours every year picking the tasty berries to use in pancakes, pies, muffins, or even as healthy snacks all on their own.
On our property, we are fortunate to have an open area near the back of the lot where the berries grow in a small patch and provide an ample supply of fruit for the season.
In years when our crop isn’t as good, we know secret spots on islands around the lake where we can normally find an abundant supply of blueberries.
Searching for such locations is great fun and top blueberry spots are closely-guarded secrets in cottage country. If you want to find a new patch, start by exploring sites with open areas of rock that get significant sunlight.
Blueberry picking etiquette
Prime blueberry territory on cottage lakes can see cabin owners competing to harvest the crop each year.
Discovering an unpicked patch feels a bit like winning the lottery, and the temptation to pick it clean is strong, but cottaging is a community activity and it is best to keep the greed under control.
Try to leave some berries for the next group that visits the patch. Next year, you might be the one who benefits from the same act of kindness.
Blueberry picking safety
Harvesting blueberries requires some planning, especially when the bugs are bad and the area has a healthy bear population.
Make sure you have bug nets, insect repellent, and wear appropriate clothing.
With ticks becoming a greater concern in many cottage regions, it is best to wear pants when picking blueberries, and tuck them into your socks.
In order to avoid an unwanted encounter with a bear, it is always a good idea to make some noise when you approach the blueberry patch and wear bear bells while collecting the berries.
Keep the entire family together and make sure someone takes a moment every few minutes to scan the area for any potential visitors.
When is the best time to pick blueberries?
Every region is different and the spring weather can have a huge impact on when the crop will be ready. In years with an abundance of sunny days, the season can begin a week or two earlier than normal.
In our neck of the woods, the first ripe berries begin to appear in early July and the peak of the picking season is usually the last two weeks of the month. The crop is often finished by the middle of August.
Fun for everyone
With a bit of organization and lake country courtesy, cottage families and neighbours can all enjoy the blueberry harvest.
To get more information on top techniques to harvest blueberries, please check out our Blueberry Picking Tips page.
Article and photo by: Andrew S. Walker