Wild Harvest Season: Unusual Timing

The weather this summer has made for weird and confusing timing for the wild harvest in Northwest Wisconsin.  Normally, we would have started picking blueberries on the barrens a week or so ago, but in my neck of the woods they are just beginning to ripen.  I have not found any ripe ones yet, but others in the area have found a few just within the past couple days.  These photos were taken this morning.  Some are showing a little blue but most are still white – a couple warm days ought to ripen them up.

The next two weeks or so should be a good time to harvest ripe blueberries, but the weather will turn hot and the deer flies will be eating pickers alive, and the mosquitoes are still abundant.  If you go out, be sure to cover up and bring water!  I also found a wood tick crawling up my leg from a short walk into the prairie last evening, and it’s the middle of July!

There is an abundance of wild raspberries ripening now (which should be ripe AFTER the blueberries, but at least their ripening is right on time this year!).  Wild raspberries are small compared to cultivated varieties, but they are sweet and delicious!

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The most unusual thing to me is that the hazelnuts are ripening quickly.  I don’t know why exactly.  We usually see hazlenuts ripening in early to mid-August.  Some people say they are ripe in September, but if you wait that long in normal years, at least around these parts, you will find empty husks or worm-filled, overripe nuts.  It appears that this year there if you wait past mid-August you may miss out.

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The bushes are chock full of involcures,  but I feel the nuts are not quite ripe yet, however you COULD pick them and allow them to ripen at home.  Once the nuts begin showing a little brownness, they are ready to be harvested.  To learn more about the hazlenut harvest, read my blog from last year here.

Wild Rice is not tall enough to start flowering yet – I will keep an eye on it though in the next couple weeks to see how it progresses and report back.  Meanwhile, I will see you in the berry patches on the barrens!

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