In the Paradise area, logging of white pine cleared the area

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MARQUETTE — On jack pine plains across the Upper Peninsula, blueberry pickers are gathering a bountiful harvest.”They are beautiful berries,” said Karyn Vanlinden, administrative assistant at the Marquette County Convention and Visitors Bureau in Marquette. “The blueberry crop is very good this year.”Above average precipitation and cooler than typical summertime temperatures have aided the berry production, though pickers said some additional rain could help extend the season, according to The Mining Journal of Marquette.Vanlinden said the Convention and Visitors Bureau usually fields several calls, over a few weeks, each year from pickers outside the area. This year, they’ve received more calls than usual, from as far away as Chicago.”I just had a couple come up from Wisconsin and they picked 27 quarts,” Vanlinden said.The calls began coming in about three weeks ago. Vanlinden said she thinks the season will last to the end of the month.Blueberry picking is popular in many parts of the U.P. The sandy plains areas where jack pine grow are also home to the berries. Pickers enjoy the simple pleasure of picking wild berries, soft summertime breezes on good days and they can often hear the flutelike song of hermit thrushes.From pies and buckle, to pancakes and jam and just plain handfuls, pickers prize the ripe berries and look forward to the picking season each year.In northern Chippewa County, organizers are getting ready for this year’s Wild Blueberry Festival, which runs Saturday and Sunday in Paradise. The popular festival draws participants from a wide area for arts and crafts, music and blueberries.”Each year during the third weekend in August we celebrate a part of our local heritage, wild blueberries,” organizers said on the festival’s website.The festival also includes informative programs, which highlight nature and local history.Some researchers think early Native Americans in the region used fire to help aid the production of wild blueberry plants, which are typically more abundant after wildfires.In the Paradise area, logging of white pine cleared the area during the 1880s through the 1920s.”The cut-over land, swept by fires giant-alien , provided a natural environment for wild blueberries, one of nature’s ‘pioneer’ plants,” the festival website said. “Blueberry bushes flourished in the sandy cheap replica designer handbags online , acidic soil. Fields of ‘blue gold’ covered vast areas and gave rise to a new industry.”In the Munising area, and in Paradise as well, wild blueberries were shipped to Great Lakes ports, including Chicago and Detroit. In those days of the early 20th century, cultivated varieties of blueberries had not been developed yet.Pickers — as many as 1,500 in northeastern Chippewa County — would come to the area seasonally to help pick blueberries for the restaurant trade. In other areas, including Alger County, pickers rode trains to picking areas.”The local blueberry industry peaked during the Great Depression, but declined with the advent of World War II when labor for picking was scarce, and the natural secession of vegetation and forest reduced the number of blueberry bushes,” the Paradise festival website said. “Wild blueberries still thrive in the area, and some commercial picking continues south and west of Paradise.”Vanlinden said pickers should remember to bring insect repellent and wearing a light long-sleeved shirt can help prevent getting arms scratched up while picking.Pickers should also seek permission to pick wild berries on private property.The Paradise website said low bush varieties of blueberries, which are found in open, sunny areas, ripen from late July through August. Highbush berries, which can be located in shaded areas, ripen from late August through September.This report is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Mining Journal (Marquette).

It’s a blueberry boom in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

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