Minnesota summer raspberry and blueberry growers report fields full of blossoms and expect to open for pick-your-own and pre-picked berries the first two weeks of July.
Raspberry and blueberry seasons start towards the end of strawberry season and usually last at least three weeks, depending on the variety and weather conditions.
As with strawberries, seasonal availability begins in southern Minnesota and travels northward. Mild temperatures in the 70s and 80s extend the seasons and allow berries to ripen at a steady pace, while excessive heat can cause berries to ripen more quickly and shorten the seasons.
Picking berries is a great outdoor activity for all ages. Debbie Yennie of First Fruits Blueberry Farm in Menahga explains that pick-your-own berry farms are “a place where families come to have a family experience. Seeing families come together is the best part of my blueberry farm.”
Minnesota blueberry and raspberry varieties are grown for their robust, juicy flavor, not long shelf life or shipping ability. Raspberries will keep in the fridge for about four days, and blueberries about a week. Both kinds of berries freeze well, too, so you can enjoy them throughout the year.
Randy Jones of Jonesey Berry Farm in Grove City grows strawberries, summer raspberries, and fall raspberries. He advises visitors to call ahead before visiting farms to verify hours and availability, and to pack water, sunscreen, and a hat before heading to the patch.
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 2019 Directory includes 34 summer raspberry farms, 31 blueberry farms, and other specialty berry farms like elderberries, currants, honey berries, and aronia berries. Order your free printed directory online at www.minnesotagrown.com/order-minnesota-grown-directory/ or call 1-800-657-3878.
Larry Schumacher, MDA Communications