Clackamas County is blueberry country this time of year, but the end of the season may arrive earlier than usual.

The pre-harvest report predicted a larger crop than last year, but as the season draws on, those expectations haven't quite been met, said Zach Krahmer, chairman of the Oregon Blueberry CORY MIMMS - Cindy Basargin, 13, selling fresh berries at a stand on Highway 213. Martha Sharabin, Basargin's grandmother, owns the stand.

"The crop was early and compact," Krahmer said. "The volume is good, not great like some were thinking it might be, and it's a marginal quality year." According to Krahmer, the rain in mid to late June and the early heat had a negative impact on the berries. "The rain weakened the fruit," he said.

The price of blueberries is down this year as well, due to high production rates last year. Krahmer attributes this to unconsumed berries from 2012 across the nation. "When there's a lot left, it softens the market substantially," he said.

Though the Blueberry Commission is reporting lower quality, local farmers report good berry conditions.

"Our fruit quality is fine this year," said Tristan Gingerich, operations manager of Gingerich Farms.

Gingerich's berries ripened earlier than they had last few years, but looking back to the 1980s, when the farm began growing blueberries, the start date this year was what he considers average.

Smaller farms near Molalla also report good quality fruit. This season is "better than last year," said Deb Schmid, of Schmid Family Farms, part of the Molalla Farm Loop. Schmid said the nice weather in spring, mixed with good rain fall, helped.

Schmid's bushes also blossom about a week early. She expects her berries to last only through mid-August, rather than until the end of August.

Most of Schmid's berries go to U-pickers. Though they aren't overrun with customers this year, the stream has been steady, she said.

Fresh berries are also still available at stands along the road, like the one on Highway 213, just north of Safeway.

The stand there is owned by Martha Sharabin, who has a berry farm in Molalla and another in Woodburn. They are open every day, except Sunday, through late August.

The numbers

Last year, Clackamas County’s blueberry production value was more than $10 million, producing almost eight million pounds of blueberries.

Though blueberries top the list, they aren’t the only berry Clackamas County farmers grow.

Clackamas County’s 2012 berry production values

Blueberries: $10.7 million

Marion and other blackberries: $7 million

Strawberries: $1.4 million

Black raspberries: $1.4 million

Red raspberries: $1.3 million

Evergreen blackberries: $521,000

Boysenberries: $353,000

Total small fruit and berries: $22.9 million

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