This summer's impact on berry picking season

NILES, Mich. -- A late season freeze got the crops at Lehman's Orchard off to a slow start, but things are looking more promising if you want to go berry picking for the rest of the summer.

Weather impacts crops each year. In 2020, there have been two main weather factors. The first was the freeze in early May.

Previously, ABC57 reported that Lehman's Orchard was not too worried about this freeze. Now, manager Steve Lecklider says this freeze had a bigger impact than they originally thought. The first round of summer blueberries and raspberries crops was "a little less than it could have been," according to Lecklider.

For 2020, there is no peach crop. There are a limited number of cherries available in their shop, but there are no U-Pick cherries this season.

The second weather impact is our mostly hot, dry summer. The irrigation system has been put to good use recently.

"We have two irrigation pumps, and we just run them continuously, so the water bill is a little higher than usual," Lecklider said.

Irrigating is not as effective as natural rain. Lecklider is hoping for a few more rains, but overall, says the next round of summer berries is looking promising despite the dry conditions.

Blueberries, blackberries, and red raspberries are expected to be ready as soon as next week. You can call ahead to the orchard to see what fruit is available for U-Pick each day. There are picking pails available and containers to take your food home, so you don't need to bring anything.

If you're planning to visit Lehman's, you are required to wear a mask in the indoor shop. While picking in the fields, you are not required to wear one. Lehman's believes there is enough social distancing with space between fruit trees to stay safe without a mask.

Many people have visited during the pandemic because they want something fun to do.

"I think with coronavirus, the people are just out for some adventures, so we're very thankful people are coming out and gathering fruit," Lecklider explained.

Looking ahead, Lecklider says it should be a good apple season too. Lehman's Orchard is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon through 5 p.m. on Sundays.

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