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Harsh winter affecting berry availability

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (Scott Dimmich) -- People who like local fruits may have a hard time finding them this year.
   
The cold and harsh winter had a lasting effect on berry plants.

Jerry Major from Green Acres Landscaping and Nursery said, "There's anywhere from light damage to what I would call moderate damage to total damage."
   
The signs of cold and snow from months ago were easily seen in the blueberries, or lack of blueberries, at Green Acres Landscaping and Nursery in Liberty Township.

"We did have a lot of die back on the plants this year and I'm sure that was from the harsh winter.  If that got down into the bud, then it wouldn't generate a berry this spring.  And we're seeing a lot of that," Major said.

Green Acres estimated that 80 percent of their spring blueberry crop had long-term damage from the winter's snow and cold.  But the blueberry crop that peaks in August fared much better.  There they saw only 5 percent damage.  But even when winter let up, rain and cooler than average temperatures during the spring and early summer have cropped the blueberry crop even more.

"The cool, damp spring has had a huge effect on it.  We had 2 inches of rain here July 1, and that really hurt it.  The crop was coming on strong, but ever since then it's been going downhill," Major told Local 12.
   
While most of their business comes from landscaping and the nursery, after 15 years in business, this was the first time Green Acres has had a significant loss in their blueberry harvest.

Major said, "With a winter like what we had, there's just nothing you can do.  That's why they call it farming I guess."
   
While the blueberry plants will be relatively inexpensive to replace, it can take years for the new ones to produce berries.

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