Blueberry season!

We apologize for the brief hiatus– both Werner and I work in the blueberry breeding & genetics lab at University of Florida. It’s our lab’s job to make brand-new cultivars of blueberries that can hold up to Florida’s heat and still taste good, so when blueberries are in season it’s a monthlong marathon of pick-test-pick-test-pick-test.

It’s been a good year! It looks like the warm spell in late winter got the plants to leaf out a little further ahead of fruit-bearing than they usually do, so thanks to the magic of extra photosynthesis the berries have been extra sweet and full of lovely volatile aroma compounds. Most years you get some skunky ones that taste like bubblegum and/or wet dog, and the new crosses have so many sour bushes that the poor folks taste-testing them all day get sore mouths. (The things we go through for the fruits we love.) I can’t speak for the other taste-testers, but I don’t think I’ve bit into a single wet dogger this season. I’m going to call 2013 a win.

When the plants are in extra-good condition they often get a jammy, blackberry sort of vibe to them. In a normal year you only find a couple like that but this year maybe half of them have been doing it thanks to the ideal weather. We found one bush that tasted like gingerbread! My personal winner for the year is 06-510. Sweet jammy fruit in big full handful-sized clusters right out on the tips of the branches– not only is it delicious but you can pick a bush clean in about half the time of a normal bush. We christened it “Smash-and-Grab.”

There’ve been some other field adventures, like when we found a baby corn snake (little bit thicker than a pencil) tangled up in the bird netting on some of our bushes. It was one of those red-yellow-black striped dealies so Werner and I stood there there for a minute trying to remember all those nursery rhymes about whether if X color touches Y color, will it kill you? Luckily all the rhymes we could think of agreed that this little dude was harmless so we cut the net off of him… and moved him to another plot far, far away from bird netting!

We’ll remember to get pictures next time. The little guy was wrapped up pretty bad and
looked like it was under a lot of stress so we were in a big hurry to get it out and off to a safer place. Snakes are free critter control so we don’t mind spending a few extra minutes to keep one around.

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