Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wild Huckleberry Season -- Early Reports & Picking with Rakes

Early reports from my fellow "huckleberry hounds" indicate wild huckleberries are starting to ripen in the lower elevations (e.g. 2600') , although still tasting a bit on the sour or "pre-sweet" side of things. Reports also indicate the current wild huckleberry crop is HEAVY at lower elevations.

Normally, we are picking wild huckleberries at lower habitats around the first of July, so just like the cherries in my back yard, EVERYTHING is 2 or 3 weeks later than usual. In fact, the higher elevation huckleberries maybe 3 weeks or more later than usual. An early frost could really shorten the season this year, because those purple gems are still green and small right now.

We are holding hope, with the excellent winter snow cover, wet spring, and more moderate summer temps than years past, we will see a bumper crop of wild huckleberries in 2008. This could be the best year since 1994, the last bumper crop, regionally. However, the positive outlook for the lower elevation berries may not carry over to the upper elevations, where the great bulk of wild huckleberry habitat exists.

According to Dr. Dan Barney, University of Idaho extension horticulturist -- known affectionately as Dr. Huckleberry among his friends -- he expects average to above average wild huckleberry yields in the lower elevation wild huckleberry habitat, with average to above average berry sizes. For higher elevations, he is not so optimistic, and expects spotty crops, but things are still early.

Several issues com into play with the higher elevations wild huckleberry crop. While snow cover was the best in years, some areas had a cold wet spring (possibly affecting pollination?), while other areas did not get much rainfall. Also, Idaho experienced significant snow storms VERY LATE, June 8-9, which probably translated into late frosts in the higher elevations. Since the actual berries only occur on the current year's growth, this is critical.

With a couple weeks of hot weather, although milder than recent years, the wild huckleberries are really starting to come on! Cross your fingers, and get out there... but plan your outings at least two weeks LATER than normal for wild huckleberries.

And if you are interested in getting more huckleberries in your bucket, with fewer gas guzzling trips to the woods, I am now offering huckleberry rakes, sometimes called, "huckleberry pickers", for sale. Check out Huckleberry Rakes ! We also carry them on our Tastes of Idaho web site, take your picker, lol!

And we hope to see you out huckleberry picking in the wilds of Idaho, with your huckleberry rake, very soon!

I will posting more often. I apologize if you tuned in, and I was tuned out!


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