Stepsisters Natalie Bell (left) and Georgina Upton celebrate a bumper blueberry harvest yesterday at Mountain Blue Orchards, the family property at Lindendale.
Stepsisters Natalie Bell (left) and Georgina Upton celebrate a bumper blueberry harvest yesterday at Mountain Blue Orchards, the family property at Lindendale. David Nielsen

Berry season ends with smiles

SOME local farmers are celebrating a berry, berry good year.

The 2009 blueberry crop exceeded all expectations, with many district growers confirming record yields.

Natalie Bell, whose parents own Mountain Blue Orchards at Lindendale, puts it all down to perfect weather conditions.

The berries can’t be harvested when its wet, so this year’s dry spring was good news for growers.

Ms Bell said research into better varieties had also contributed to an abundant yield.

The bumper harvest came just in time after several poor growing seasons.

“We had three years of crappy weather,” Ms Bell said.

Hailstorms in the past two growing seasons reduced yields.

In 2007, a minus-eight degrees frost wiped out the entire crop.

Ms Bell said the 2009 yield would give them a chance to get back on their feet.

Mountain Blue Orchards has 65,000 blueberry bushes and last year produced 57 tonnes of berries.

During peak season the farm employs 80 people.

Mountain Blue Orchards’ berries are sold on the domestic market and the farm is the third-largest grower in Australia.

Blueberries contain antioxidants and are said to reduce the risk of cancer.

They also lower cholesterol, blood lipids and reduce the risk of heart disease.



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