Strawberry seekers will need to be patient this year. Like most other crops that got a late start because of the cool spring, the state’s berry season is about two weeks behind normal.
State agriculture officials said the local berries will be large and healthy, and pick-your-own farms will likely open around June 20, with peak picking over the Fourth of July weekend.
“Some varieties have yet to bloom, which means there will be a long picking season this year,” said Gary Kircher of Garden Hills Farm in Fertile, which is in northwestern Minnesota’s Polk County.
The berry season moves from south to north, with strawberry farms in northern Minnesota typically a couple weeks behind those in the Twin Cities.
Officials said it’s important to call farms prior to picking, to learn the latest about crop conditions and hours of operation. The 2014 Minnesota Grown directory includes 85 strawberry farms with pick-your-own operations, pre-picked sales, or both. An online listing at www.minnesotagrown.com directs users to the nearest berry farms if they enter a city or zip code.
Raspberries and blueberries are also expected to ripen later than normal. They are typically ready near the end of the strawberry picking season.