Nacogdoches' Mill Creek Farm is getting out of the blueberry business

NACOGDOCHES, TX (News Release) - The Mill Creek Farm announced today that after 25 years of blueberry production, its owners plan to convert the land to a timber farm.

"We were at a stage where the best use of this land is in timber," said the farm manager for the Sam B. Hayter Trust, which owns the 65-acre berry farm and an adjacent 8,000 acres, which is also used for timber production.

According to the manager, "The majority of the blueberry plants are about 25 years old, and are not tolerating the heat we experience in mid to late summer," he said. "So, faced with a need to replant, the studies showed that planting timber would result in the most beneficial use of this productive land."

The farm has proudly served as the major supplier of berries sold at the Texas Blueberry Festival, held the second weekend in June by the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce.

"Mill Creek Farm met with us and said that many other East Texas growers would be very interested in supplying our festival and, like Mill Creek, would be proud to be a part of this cherished tradition," said Bruce R. Partain, Chamber CEO.  "Also, our presenting sponsor is Brookshire Brothers, and there is the possibility they could help with blueberries. We're confident there will be plenty of East Texas berries for the 2014 festival."

Mill Creek sold 9,000 pounds of blueberries in the 2013 festival, during a year when a late freeze affected berry production. More than 15,000 pounds of berries were sold at the 2012 festival.

Partain said the Chamber respects the decision any business makes based on return on investment. "The Texas Blueberry Festival has had a tremendous ride with Mill Creek Farm, and we wish them the very best as they seek the best yield from their agricultural properties."

The Texas Blueberry Festival also provides free rides to a smaller farm where festival-goers can pick their own berries during the festival. "The farm tour 'pick and peek' will not be affected by the Mill Creek decision," Partain said.

"We are already planning the June 14, 2014 festival, which will be our 25th annual event," he said. "There will be berries from East Texas and a tremendous day of fun and activities for everyone."

The festival attracted 19,000 visitors and locals in 2013, according to the Chamber.