John Daley
Mr. Blueberry of South Ohio
Click on pictures for enlargements
john1s.jpg Located in the village of South Ohio Nova Scotia are the blueberry fields of John Daley.   John can be seen on the left inspecting the operation of one of the raking tractors.  On the right is John  with another half ton truck load of containers for the berries. john3s.jpg

Before raking
Most years before picking the field is filled with berries.  This year 2004 was one of the worst years John has had. A very damp spring and contracted spraying not carried out, resulted in a significant loss in productivity.  Weather, animals such as deer, bear and birds especially seagulls, can also have a  serious effect on yields. 
After Raking
Problem corrected
If the rakers are properly adjusted almost all berries will be removed from the bushes.  While I was there one of the three rakers was not set at the right speed and half the berries were left on the branches or crushed.  It was not long before John noticed the problem and had it corrected.  The rakes were turning to slow.  Once adjusted raking went normally.  From start to finish a vigilant eye must be kept on all aspects of production.  Even the attitude of the bees can effect productivity.  John referred to the domestic bees he had as "Union Bees" . Unlike the wild variety that worked from dawn to dusk, these had more of a tendency to start at around 9:00 am and stop at 4:30 pm. 

The blueberries in South West Nova ripen a week of so before those in the valley.  This enables the equipment to be used in this area first and then the Valley and more northern parts of Nova Scotia later.  The blueberry is a hardy plant, almost a weed, the tractor driving over the plants does not do any damage to the plants.
Blueberries are a succession plant.  Old fields that are abandoned will go through a series of changes from grass to shrubs and as the soil becomes more acidic conditions that favour blueberries develop.  Burning and herbicides maintain conditions favourable to the continuation of the berry in that location.  Occasionally the field is completely mowed eliminating all weeds. 

The blueberry will then have an advantage, because of it's extensive root system, to dominate the area. Fields are picked every second year.  Several years ago the 4 acre field down back produced 18,000 pounds of berries while last year it yielded only 10,000 pounds. 

At one time John use to hand pick the berries.  This meant hours of stringing lines across the field and then trying to get workers to harvest on hot summer days.  He also had to make sure that no spots were missed, contend with worker fatigue, longer picking times of several weeks and inclement weather.  With  three machines the crop can be picked in one day, which helps to assure maximum crop quality.  These machines have revolutionized the blueberry industry. 

Once picked the berries are trucked to a Kemptville fire hall where they are weighed and that same day shipped to the valley for processing.  From field to finished product in 24 hours insures product quality. 



Pictures on the left show the new blueberry harvester developed by the Province of Nova Scotia.  Each tractor can do about two acres a day.  These machines came from Oxford, N.S.  They will spend about 9 days in his area them head home to harvest the crops in their area. About 75 percent N.S. of present production comes from Cumberland County. (S)  Only about 1% of the berries come from the Yarmouth area.  In 1993 over 30,000,000 pounds of berries were harvested in Nova scotia. Map

John  plans on expanding his fields, with the purchase of about 10 more acres in the Kempt area.   At best he has produced about 6000 pounds of berries per acre.  It is an iffy prospect and that yield could easily be cut to less than half by adverse conditions.

pick1s.jpg On the left is a piture of Don & Marlin Burns doing a bit of picking along the edges before the rakers go through.

On the left is Richard Devine who has several blueberry fields net to John's. Because of deer and poor spring weather his productivity was down by more than half of last years yield.
Mummy berry is probably the most commonly known disease of blueberry. It is caused by the fungus Monilinia vacinii-corymbosi. The most conspicuous symptom of the disease is the mummification of infected berries. Picture to the left are mushroom-like apothecia that germinate from mummy berries on the ground in the spring. These contain ascospores which cause shoot blight. (S)  For more information go to BLUEBERRY DISEASES IN MICHIGAN.
The disease can be controlled by spraying, but there is a very narrow window of 72 hours in which this must be done.  Picture on the right shows small pinkish white berries among the mature.   These are what we refer to as mummy berries.  Once infected a field must be sprayed every year.  Only specific chemicals can be used on a field.  Berries are checked before processing and if banned chemicals are detected the whole shipment is rejected.

Videos of:
1 John & Richard
2 Matthew Surette on raker
3 Raking Machine

Blueberries are native to North America with large stands in the Maritimes and coastal New England. In 1976, the high bush berries began to be cultivated in Ontario.  Surprisingly, acid rain has stimulated the growth of natural stands of  low bush berries in some inland areas by reducing the pH level of the  soil. (S)

Freezing Blueberries
According to the North American Blueberry Council, you should not wash your blueberries before you freeze them. If you buy the berries in a pint box, simply wrap the box tightly in cellophane to make it airtight, or slip it into a resealable plastic bag (squeeze out as much air as possible). Then freeze. If you buy the berries in bulk, freeze them on a cookie sheet first and then transfer them into a freezer container. Keep frozen until ready to use.(S)

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Plantae 
Division: Magnoliophyta 
Class:  Magnoliopsida 
Order:  Ericales 
Family:  Ericaceae 
Genus:  Vaccinium 
Species:  corymbosum 
The blueberry, Vaccinium sp. (The genus Vaccinium also includes Cranberries and many many wild berries used by wildlife) is a shrub producing edible round blue berries with flared "crowns" at the end.

In the United States the name huckleberry is often used for blueberry. While the two fruits are similar in appearance and flavor, the huckleberry which is a drupe has a 10-celled ovary, each cell (drupelet) normally containing a seed large enough to be conspicuously noticeable when the whole fruit is eaten. Blueberries, in contrast, contain many seeds so small as not to be noticeable when the fruit which is a berry is consumed. Only blueberries are a cultivated crop, but quantities of huckleberries are harvested from native plants. The huckleberry plant is a shrub, to 6 feet, with small, entire oval leaves. Fruits are borne in small clusters. Individual fruits are generally one-third inch or less in diameter, mainly blue to black in color, sweet or slightly tart when ripe.(S

 Blueberry Links


1. Natures
History History of Nova Scotia Blueberry industry So blue, so sweet, so distinctly different, lowbush WildBlueberries are the healthy little berries from Maine, Atlantic Canada and Quebec. 
. Natures # 1 antioxidant Recent USDA studies show that Wild Blueberries are a tasty way to eat right and stay healthy. Scientists at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging ranked blueberries #1 in antioxidant activity compared with 40 other commercially available fruits and vegetables. 
Blueberries in Nova Scotia  The most common species of blueberry harvested in Nova Scotia is the wild low bush type, known  scientifically as Vaccinium angustifolium. Something special has been created to help you celebrate Canada's long relationship with its favouriteberry. 
ORGANIC BLUEBERRY CULTURE  On most sites, blueberries are relatively free of disease and insect pests, but weeds are an ever present problem.
Blueberry Recipes  Top 50 links from google
Homemade Blueberry Wine  Lee Etherington  |  |  | 
A few odd ones Blueberry Hamburgersblueberry-soup recipe blueberry butter
2. A Fictitious Story When they got on the land and up the hill they saw blueberries the size of melons.

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