Minnesota blueberries and summer raspberries 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 blueberries and raspberries the first two weeks of July.
Blueberry and raspberry season starts towards the end of strawberry season. As with strawberries, seasonal availability begins in southern Minnesota and moves northward. Blueberry season usually lasts at least 3 full weeks depending on the variety and weather conditions. 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 blueberry and raspberry varieties are grown for their robust, juicy flavor, and not for long shelf life or shipping ability. Sam Kedem of Sam Kedem Nursery & Garden in Hastings shares tips on how to pick and preserve Minnesota berries.
“Blueberries and raspberries are best harvested during the morning hours and should be refrigerated as soon as possible,” said Kedem. “Wait to rinse your berries until you are ready to use them. Raspberries can be kept in the fridge for up to four days, and blueberries will keep for about a week. Both kinds of berries freeze well, too, so you can enjoy them throughout the year.”
Bill Hein of Straight River Farm in Faribault recommends using color to gauge ripeness.
“Color change typically signals that it is time to harvest, so look for a deep color,” said Hein. “Mature berries will detach easily. If you have to tug, the berry’s not ripe yet.”
Danielle Daugaard of Minnesota Grown recommends calling ahead before visiting a pick-your-own farm to verify hours.
“Picking berries is a great outdoor activity for all ages,” said Daugaard. “Prepare for being outside. Bring hats, sunscreen, and a water bottle. Most farms provide containers, but call ahead to ask if you need to bring your own.”
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 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 can be ordered online or by calling 1-888-TOURISM (1-888-868-7476).
Alauna Yust, MDA Communications