Minnesota strawberry producers have reported that fields are blooming. Growers anticipate that the 2017 season will begin mid- to late June for central and southern Minnesota, while farms in northern Minnesota expect to open in early July.
Julie Townsend of Dassel Hillside Berry Farm has already determined an opening day for the central Minnesota pre-picked/pick-your-own operation.
“We did not have frost and the strawberries are blooming,” said Townsend. “We are expecting to open the week of June 11.”
Thaddeus McCamant, a specialty crop management instructor at Central Lakes College, notes that cool spring conditions have slowed ripening and extended the season for many Minnesota growers. Mild temperatures and adequate moisture this spring will likely improve the color, size, and taste of this year’s crop.
Ter-Lee Gardens in northwestern Minnesota will likely open their season the first week in July. Like many Minnesota Grown strawberry farms, Ter-Lee Gardens offers both pre-picked and pick-your-own berries. Katherine Brozek of Hilltop Harvest LLC in Redwood Falls offers some berry picking advice.
“Picking strawberries is a great family activity,” said Brozek. “Remember to dress comfortably for the weather and wear sunscreen.” Growers also recommend calling ahead or checking the Facebook page of your local strawberry farm for availability, hours of operation, and prime picking times.
Strawberries should be eaten within three days of picking for optimum freshness and washed just before consuming. For longer preservation, wash the berries, remove their stems, and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. After freezing, place the strawberries in Ziploc bags.
The Minnesota Grown directory includes 80 strawberry farms, 31 blueberry farms, and 41 summer raspberry farms, along with apple orchards, farmers markets, garden centers, and other places to buy directly from farmers. Search the directory by region or product to find a berry farm in your area. Order a free printed copy of the directory online at www.minnesotagrown.com or by calling 651-201-6469.
Alauna Yust, MDA Communications