Season off to a berry good start

Invercargill boy Mason Steel (10, second from left) took his cousins (from left) Finn (9), Eli (8...
Invercargill boy Mason Steel (10, second from left) took his cousins (from left) Finn (9), Eli (8) and Joey (5) Butland to pick blueberries for the first time yesterday. PHOTOS: LUISA GIRAO
A Southland blueberry orchard manager says this season is one of the most promising in recent years.

Blueberry Country general manager Simon Bardon said technology and the good weather put the Otautau orchard in a good place for the beginning of the eight-week season.

More than a tonne of blueberries had been collected at Southland’s only blueberry farm on the first day of the season yesterday.

"Although the winter was very wet, the last two months have been pleasantly warm and that is what we need for our blueberries," Mr Bardon said.

One of the best parts of blueberry-picking season was seeing all the families out and children tired from running up and down the orchards picking their own fruit, he said.

Invercargill boy Mason Steel was one of them.

Blueberry Country worker Aaron Torrie (left) and general manager Simon Bardon check on some of...
Blueberry Country worker Aaron Torrie (left) and general manager Simon Bardon check on some of the first crates of blueberries this season.
He has been attending the Pick Your Own events for the past three years.

This time, he brought his Auckland cousins Finn, Eli and Joey Butland to have the experience for the first time.

"My tip to them was to find the best blueberries, the dark ones, and just pick them," Mason said.

"Blueberries are one of my favourites fruits so eating them is the best part of the whole thing."

The Auckland trio were delighted with the hand-picked fun.

"We hope we come back again next year — we had a really great time," Finn said.

The orchard’s "pick your own" programme will run until until the end of next month. Vaccine passes are required.

luisa.girao@odt.co.nz

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