|Bramblett Bradham shows off fresh-picked blueberries|
Many rural farms keep a few blueberry bushes in production for their own consumption, and they are typical a hardy plant that requires only pruning in order to prosper, providing normal rainfall occurs. When Bramblett Bradham of Walterboro invited me to come see his Uncle’s commercial blueberry operation and mentioned that they had 50,000-blueberry bushes in production, I jumped at the chance to visit the Sweet Blues farm located in Hollywood.
|Dr. Randolph Bradham - Blueberry Farmer|
Turning onto a straight dirt road that borders the long rows of bushes, I noticed that the fitting name was Blueberry Road. This is flat land, with dark and rich-looking topsoil, that may have been associated with low lands like a bay or pocosin. Turns out that is a god thing since what some might call poor soil with a low PH is exactly what a blueberry bush needs to thrive. “I think it’s got to be below a 5.5 PH in order to be a site that is ready for blueberry production,” said Bramblett Bradham.
|Crate of Sweet Blues berries ready for delivery|
“The Sweet Blues farm began with the first blueberry bushes being planted in 1978,” said Bramblett Bradham. “What started as a 2.5-acre future retirement project for my Uncle, has grown into about 40-acres of bushes for him to oversee. Each year I am involved with everything from selecting which areas are to be harvested, making sure the packing plant is running smoothly and delivering the blueberries to market. All of our Sweet Blues berries are hand-picked and they are graded so that only high-quality blueberries go to market.”
|Rows of blueberry bushes stretch on and on|
Dr. Randolph Bradham is a World War II veteran, who retired from his practice as a Thoracic surgeon in 1995, and now continues to work at age 90 as owner of Sweet Blues. “The 2015 harvest of blueberries was the biggest bumper crop I have ever seen in my 35 years of experience,” said Dr. Bradham. “The word phenomenon would be a good way to describe how the blueberries responded to the cold winter followed by a wet spring. Other blueberry growers in Georgia and Florida experienced the same kind of record production.”
To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.
To view past blog entries with Bramblett Bradham click on Duck Season Finale.