Summertime is blueberry season and locally-owned Outback Farm & Supply of Pryor offers hundreds of bushes for picking.
Open seven days a week, Outback Farm & Supply welcomes visitors as early as six in the morning, owner Mike Auxier said. The farm typically closes around 5 p.m.
“I’ve had some families call me at 6 p.m., wanting to pick after work. We’ll open the gate and they’ll stay until dark,” he said. “We try to make it pleasant for everybody.”
He said people enjoy the quiet atmosphere and not having to fight for good blueberries.
Visitors, not wanting to pick their own, can purchase pre-picked berries that are already chilled. Currently, Auxier has about 450 pounds of frozen blueberries for sale.
“We’ll probably end up with about 800 pounds of frozen blueberries at the end of the season, and then we’ll sell them throughout the year. Last year, we started picking May 11 and this year we started June 11,” he said. “The season typically lasts well into August.”
The 44-acres of land includes nine different varieties of blueberries.
“The taste is of personal preference,” said Auxier. Each type of berry has a different flavor, and since we don’t spray the bushes, the berries are 100 percent natural. People can eat them right off the bush.”
Auxier and his wife bought the farm in 2009 after owning an apple and pear orchard in Canada.
“The trees were a 365 days a year job because we had to spray constantly, otherwise the fruit would go bad. The great thing about blueberries is they’re resilient,” said Auxier. “We cut the dead stems back and then we’ll have new growth the following year.”
Rose bushes are planted around the field to capture blueberry-eating Japanese beetles. The beetles are then sprayed on the roses, allowing the blueberry bushes to thrive.
When he first began the business, Auxier contacted OSU. He was told not to plant blueberries, that they would fail.
“I did my research and I think we now know why they were failing; people were buying the wrong plants for Oklahoma. Now we buy all of our plants out of Oregon and then sell them to other area farmers.”
Last year Outback Farms ordered a shipment of more than 4,000 bushes, he said.
When blueberries are not in season, Auxier prunes the bushes, takes care of the weed-eating and adds sulphur to the plants.
In addition to the blueberries themselves, Outback Farms offers homemade blueberry soap, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, wine and more.
Outback Farms will have items available for purchase online before Christmas time, said Auxier.
For more information call (918) 519-2148 or visit Outback Farm on Facebook.