Berries: Sustaining A Customer Relationship At Your Farm

Urbanites in these times have much interest in purchasing locally grown food including berries of all types, and they are very aware of the good news that berry consumption helps promote good health. Coupled with the news about the bodily benefits of getting more outdoor exercise, many folks are ready to find growers that offer U-Pick berry picking opportunities in areas where few such farms may exist.

There are several things a grower contemplating berry farming should consider in order to first attract and then build a repeat, happy U-Pick customer base for the long-term, to sustain a U-Pick business for the entire life of each planting.

Volume Versus Weighing

Beware the nefarious picking bucket volume. For claiming 1 gallon or 8 pints of berries held by your buckets, you need and must know what your picking containers really hold in volume of real world berries. For example, many buckets sold today are designed to hold 4 quarts liquid measure, but will not hold 4 quarts of berries dry measure. This winter is a good time, for example, to purchase something similar in size to berries, such as chick peas, to check your buckets. See if one of your on-hand stock of berry buckets will hold 4 quarts of chick peas. Locate a standard dry measure 1 quart or 1 pint berry till in order to run this test. If your family members do not like to eat chick peas or to use them to make soup or hummus or other food, donate them to your local food bank!

Confusion Over Bucket Size

Most growers get around the confusion of bucket size by simply switching over to a weight system using buckets that may be locally and easily available for picking. For example, if your picking buckets will only hold 3.5 quarts dry measure, figure what that is worth per pound and per ounce, and purchase a berry growers’ electronic weight scale/register. If household electric current is not available at your field check-out stand, use the battery-powered/and or solar-powered feature on many units used by berry growers.

If other berry growers that may be within customer driving range of your berry farm are using a weight system at checkout instead of pricing by dry measure volume, customers who are familiar with the weight system may be confused by your volume system. Confusion can create suspicion and loss of repeat customers who may think or have decided that you are taking unfair advantage of them. Contact your state agriculture and consumer services’ office of weights and measures to calibrate and certify your scales for commerce.

Heaping Up Containers

For the grower’s peace of mind plus your customers’ happiness with the natural human instinct to heap up their berries in each container, the single biggest advantage to the weight system is the absolute fairness of it for both grower and customer! Charge by weight and let them heap! Look at it from your customers’ point of view: Often when picking, they come to a spot just loaded with berries at the very time their containers are about full. It is a long way back to the checkout stand to get more containers, so the only thing to do is put those berries in what they have with them.

For years we struggled with picking buckets by volume and with the heaping of containers, so we charged high prices to help make up for our loss, but it was not the best solution. Also, some pickers are rushed for time and need to stop before their container is full. We had to guess at their volume or take time to measure out, while others waited in line to pay, which is time-consuming and not pleasant for your customers or you.

Smaller Containers

Most U-Pick customers are going to process, freeze, or quickly consume their fresh-picked berries, so container size is not a big deal for them, as long as it is small enough that soft berries are not crushed into soup in the bottom of the container. Supplying customers with dry measure pint containers for raspberries is too expensive for the grower. For customers’ home use of soft fruit such as raspberries and blackberries, your customers are happy to purchase their own smaller size plastic buckets from you that they can wash and re-use each time they come to pick softer berries such as raspberries or blackberries.

Consider this winter stocking up with both 2-quart and the so-called 4-quart picking buckets and a good electronic scale/register and be ready to offer your customers a “fair trade” weight system for all their berries next season. The larger buckets are fine for blueberries and strawberries, the smaller buckets are best for raspberries and blackberries. Let them purchase their own picking containers from you so they can re-use/recycle, and you can save money by not having to give them a picking container. They will pick more fruit, and you will receive more income.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

VegetablesClifton Seed Co. Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 27, 2014
For more information, contact: Clifton Seed Co. P.O. Box 206 Faison, NC 28341 910-267-2690; fax: 910-267-2692 cliftonseed.com Read More
CitrusBe Willing To Take A ‘Wild Turkey’ Approach To Farm Fixes [Opinion]
November 27, 2014
Editor Frank Giles says Florida Grower will be stepping up to the bully pulpit in 2015 addressing topics that impact the industry the most. Read More
CitrusNew Partnership To Expand ‘Fresh From Florida’ Footprint In Taiwan
November 26, 2014
Latest deal puts exclamation point on successful Asia marketing campaign. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia OKs Asian Citrus Psyllid Insecticide
November 26, 2014
Agriphar Crop Solutions’ Micromite 80WGS is also effective on several other citrus pests. Read More
VegetablesAmerican Takii Presents Its Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 26, 2014
For more information, contact: American Takii 301 Natividad Rd. Salinas, CA 93906 831-443-4901; fax: 831-443-3976 takii.com Read More
FruitsWet December Predicted For Parched California
November 25, 2014
National Weather Service says above-normal precipitation expected; it may continue through the winter in central and southern parts of the Golden State. Read More
Apples & PearsEPA Approves Three New Moth Mating Disruption Products
November 25, 2014
Codling moth and oriental fruit moth are targeted by apple and pear growers. Read More
VegetablesSakata Hosts Annual Fall Field Trials
November 25, 2014
Growers and dealer partners gather to see new varieties at the company's South Florida field station. Read More
VegetablesStokes Seeds Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Stokes Seeds P.O. Box 548 Buffalo, NY 14240-0548 800-263-7233; fax: 800-272-5560 stokesseeds.com Read More
VegetablesAbbott & Cobb Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Abbott & Cobb P.O. Box 307 Feasterville, PA 19053 800-245-SEED; fax:215-245-9043 abbotcobb.com Read More

The Latest

VegetablesClifton Seed Co. Presents Their Latest Vegetable Variet…
November 27, 2014
For more information, contact: Clifton Seed Co. P.O. Box 206 Faison, NC 28341 910-267-2690; fax: 910-267-2692 cliftonseed.com Read More
CitrusBe Willing To Take A ‘Wild Turkey’ Approach…
November 27, 2014
Editor Frank Giles says Florida Grower will be stepping up to the bully pulpit in 2015 addressing topics that impact the industry the most. Read More
CitrusNew Partnership To Expand ‘Fresh From Florida’ Foot…
November 26, 2014
Latest deal puts exclamation point on successful Asia marketing campaign. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia OKs Asian Citrus Psyllid Insecticide
November 26, 2014
Agriphar Crop Solutions’ Micromite 80WGS is also effective on several other citrus pests. Read More
VegetablesAmerican Takii Presents Its Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 26, 2014
For more information, contact: American Takii 301 Natividad Rd. Salinas, CA 93906 831-443-4901; fax: 831-443-3976 takii.com Read More
FruitsWet December Predicted For Parched California
November 25, 2014
National Weather Service says above-normal precipitation expected; it may continue through the winter in central and southern parts of the Golden State. Read More
Apples & PearsEPA Approves Three New Moth Mating Disruption Products
November 25, 2014
Codling moth and oriental fruit moth are targeted by apple and pear growers. Read More
VegetablesSakata Hosts Annual Fall Field Trials
November 25, 2014
Growers and dealer partners gather to see new varieties at the company's South Florida field station. Read More
VegetablesStokes Seeds Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varieties
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Stokes Seeds P.O. Box 548 Buffalo, NY 14240-0548 800-263-7233; fax: 800-272-5560 stokesseeds.com Read More
VegetablesAbbott & Cobb Presents Their Latest Vegetable Varie…
November 25, 2014
For more information, contact: Abbott & Cobb P.O. Box 307 Feasterville, PA 19053 800-245-SEED; fax:215-245-9043 abbotcobb.com Read More
VegetablesVariety Trials 2014: Rupp Seeds
November 25, 2014
Check out new pumpkins weighing between 18 and 20 pounds as well as new powdery-mildew tolerant butternut squash hybrids. Read More
Food SafetyMultistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Bean Sprouts
November 25, 2014
FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state and local officials continue to investigate the food-borne illness outbreak. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCitrus Survey: New Management Techniques Trending
November 25, 2014
Growers widen their tactical approach to survive HLB. Read More
FruitsFruitGrowerConnect Brings Buyers And Sellers Together […
November 25, 2014
Suppliers and growers got down to business in San Diego discussing current needs, solutions, and ways to increase efficiencies on the farm. Read More
Vegetables15 Must Have Carrot Varieties [Slideshow]
November 24, 2014
Browse the slideshow for information on 13 carrot varieties to add to your collection. Read More
CitrusReasons Aplenty Florida Growers Should Feel Good Going …
November 24, 2014
Thanks to recent industry achievements, the next 12-month period is shaping up to be a year to remember --- fondly. Read More
BerriesSuspected Borer Could Be Big Bother To Florida Blueberr…
November 24, 2014
Producers warned to be on the lookout as scientists probe samples. Read More
NutsWatch Your Almonds’ Salt Intake
November 24, 2014
Because of the current California drought, almond growers must pay extra attention to soil salinity. Read More