Minnesota strawberries will be ready for picking soon. Growers across the state have reported fields full of blossoms and are expecting to be open for pick-your-own and pre-picked strawberries the last two weeks of June.
Berry season is short and sweet, with seasonal availability beginning in southern Minnesota and moving northward. The typical strawberry season is two-three weeks long but the length of harvest varies from farm to farm depending on varieties planted, weather, and soil type. Mild temperatures in the 70s and 80s extend the season and allow berries to ripen at a steady pace, while excessive heat can cause berries to ripen more quickly and shorten the season.
Minnesota strawberry varieties are grown for their robust, juicy flavor, and not for long shelf life or shipping ability. John Jacobson of Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake gives tips on preserving Minnesota strawberries’ fresh taste.
“Leave the berries in their natural state until you are ready to use them,” said Jacobson, “then wash them up. Waiting to wash the berries will keep them fresher longer and will help them from going bad prematurely.”
Kevin Edberg of The Berry Patch in Forest Lake has grown berries for 41 years. Edberg recommends that visitors call the farm beforehand and properly plan visits.
“Call the farm before going and prepare for being outside,” said Edberg. “Bring things like hats, sunscreen, and a water bottle. Most farms these days provide containers, but verify if you need to bring your own.”
Edberg also recommends calling ahead for those wishing to place orders for pre-picked berries.
Danielle Daugaard of Minnesota Grown recommends on-the-farm berry picking as an educational family activity.
“Picking your own berries is lots of fun and is a great way for kids to learn where their food comes from,” says Daugaard. “Minnesota Grown farmers are always happy to connect with their customers, and visiting their farms can give families a chance to ask questions about their food.”
The Minnesota Grown Directory, available in print or online, is a great place to find local pick-your-own berry operations or farmers market. The 2018 Directory includes 73 strawberry farms, 36 summer raspberry farms, 31 blueberry farms, and other specialty berry farms like elderberries, currants, honey berries, and aronia berries. Free, printed copies of the Directory may be ordered online or by calling 1-888-TOURISM (1-888-868-7476).
Alauna Yust, MDA Communications