Short, but sweet. Lake County’s blueberry season is rapidly becoming a favorite time of the year. Although typically only lasting 6 weeks, this year’s season promises to be bountiful.
The U-Pick season usually runs April through the end of May with current prices ranging from $4 to $8 a pound, depending on the farm. This year, some farms like Far Reach Ranch, Green Acres and King Grove began their season in March.
The state's history of growing blueberries began in the late 1800's. The sweet crop was one of Florida's tastiest secrets. It wasn't until the 1970's that the current hybrid cultivar blueberry was introduced, and by the mid 1980's mass plantings took root in north-central and northwestern Florida. The industry has grown tenfold and over the last 30 years, hundreds of small blueberry farms have sprouted throughout the state.
Doug and Amanda McCormack own Blue Bayou Farm in Yalaha. In addition to U-Pick blueberries, the farm also offers lunch and bakery items on weekends, as well as a craft distillery that churns out blueberry moonshine.
One local farm, Far Reach Ranch, was established in the 1940's for cattle and citrus. Now the farm harvests 43 acres of blueberries and sells blueberry jam, salsa, syrup, spritzers and other products made from their farm's berries. Another local farm, King Grove, was originally established in 1874. It is now a USDA certified organic farm with 20 acres of blueberry fields and 20 acres of orange groves. Although Florida produces approximately a quarter of what Michigan's prolific blueberry plants yield, the season is different, so local blueberry farming remains a viable business. Here's a list of local U-Pick blueberry farms and their price per pound and current U-Pick hours:
Far Reach Ranch Heavenly Blueberries 1255 South Dora Blvd., Tavares, (352) 343-7389 $4 per pound (or $5 per pound pre-picke) U-Pick hours: Wed.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 10-4 Green Acres Fernery, Blueberry & Peach Farm 8635 High St., Yalaha, (352) 360-5445 $4 per pound, Call for U-pick hours. Lake Catherine Blueberries 5849 Lake Catherine Rd., Groveland, (352) 551-4110 Call for U-Pick hours. Sand Hill Blueberries 31614 Bottany Woods Dr., Eustis, (352) 636-8204 $4 per pound, Call for U-Pick hours. Blue Bayou Farms (organic) Highway 48 (at Bloomfield), Yalaha, (352) 324-4069 $5 per pound (organic), Tues.-Sat. 9-5, Sun. 9-3 King Grove Farm (organic), 19741 CR 44A, Eustis, (352) 589-2450 $8 per pound (organic), weekends only, 9-2 Promise Farms 36111 CR 44A, Eustis, FL (352) 408-1988 Farm offers four varieties of berries
Pickers should wear closed-toe shoes and pack drinking water. Due to variable conditions in weather, fields, and berries, U-Pick hours can change, so it's recommended pickers call the farm prior to visiting.