After the bumper crop of huckleberries last season, folk are wondering about this year’s huckleberry forecast.
Here is one researcher’s perspective on the Glacier National Park huckleberries:
WEST GLACIER – Tabitha Graves can’t say this will be a bad year for huckleberries, even Huckleberry forecast from Montana though four of the five sites she is monitoring in the West Glacier area show berry production is down 75 percent to 95 percent from last year.
But the fifth is showing the same number of berries as 2014, when a bumper crop was produced after a wet, cool spring.
And Graves, a research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, doesn’t yet know what the huckleberry crop at higher elevations – where bushes are just popping out from under snow – will be like this summer.
“It could still be a great year if the berries at the higher elevations grow,” Graves says….
The five sites being monitored in the area are among a dozen in the park. Here, the elevation is close to 3,200 feet, but Graves also has sites as high as approximately 6,500 feet – one near Sperry Chalet, where mountain peaks block sunlight for much of the day, and another on (how could she not) Huckleberry Mountain, which is in the open and exposed to much sunlight.
“Some years, the crop will be good in one place and bad in others,” Graves says. Her goal is to figure out why…
To aid the research, Graves has set up remote cameras at all 12 sites that snap pictures, from a distance of 18 inches, of huckleberry bushes four to five times a day throughout the growing season.
She can see them when they’re budding, see them when they’re flowering, see them at the “saucer” stage (so called because “they look like flying saucers,” Graves explains), see them when they resemble tulips, see them when the berries are green, see them when they’re ripe…
The pilot project began last year during the bumper crop, which is why Graves knows that this year, one of her sites has just 5 percent of the berries that were produced last year, three more have just 25 percent, and one is humming along at last year’s rate.
At this point, it all remains to be seen what happens here and elsewhere with the huckleberry crop.
If anyone has any further information, please share with us.