Safe Blueberry Picking

The blueberries are abundant this year and everyone is excited to pick. The hot, dry spell of weather we experienced pushed the berries to their peak a little sooner than I had expected. There are still berries out there but the numbers are dwindling. Some berries are overripe and the many people picking gallons of berries has made an impact on the remaining crop. Still, if you get off of the beaten path you can find some nice patches to pick from.

Gunflint Trail blueberry picking
Enjoying blueberries

I visited with the Forest Service the other day about some of my observations from picking over the years. One thing I mentioned was how much the trees and shrubbery has grown the past couple of years. The trees are now much taller and that makes it difficult to see where you are. I made the suggestion that folks should pick above where their vehicle is parked so they can easily find their way back.  Another thing I’ve noticed is the forest service roads are in much worse shape. Deep ruts, overflowing beaver ponds and trees have made many of the trails inaccessible. If they are accessible you run a risk of getting a flat tire or getting stuck so my advice is to only drive in as far as you can walk out.

I normally pick with someone else and we make sure we are within ear shot of each other. But just in case one of us wonders a little too far we have a whistle we can blow. We also bring along some flagging tape and rope so we can mark a trail if need be. We always carry water and bug spray and we wear hats to keep the sun off of our faces.  One thing we don’t do is tell other people where we are going. We let them know when we’ll be back but we wouldn’t dare divulge our secret picking spots.

Here’s what the USFS came up with for safe blueberry picking.

  • Leave an itinerary with your family and let them know your timeline and location
  • Bring a compass, but know how to use it
  • Carry a whistle if you have one
  • Pick in pairs, bring a friend
  • Bring plenty of drinking water & insect repellant
  • Know the signs of heat stroke (lack of sweat, elevated pulse, headache, confusion)
  • Be mindful of parking along the Gunflint Trail
  • Know your woods road, if you drive in a couple miles and get stuck, are you prepared or able to walk that distance back out to get help?

With the beautiful weather and the rain we have had, the berries are plentiful.  Get outside and enjoy your National Forest.  The berries are ripe for the picking!

Additional SNF info:

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