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Jam on this: A fruitful strawberry season begins

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In Minnesota, it's typically a short season for fresh strawberries for your shortcake. But by all accounts, it will be a particularly luscious one this year.

"From all over the state, this looks like a very good year for strawberries," Paul Hugunin, coordinator of the Minnesota Grown program at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture told the Pioneer Press.

The wet spring gets much of the credit for the crop's bounty. That also bodes well for blueberries and raspberries, which begin to mature in early July.

KSTP notes Minnesota's strawberry season generally begins in early- to mid-June in southern and central Minnesota. The picking in northern Minnesota usually starts about two weeks after the patches open in the southern part of the state. The length of the season varies, but usually lasts between two and four weeks.

Tessa Ganser, from the Minnesota Grown Program at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, said in a news release conditions can vary day-to-day, and suggests calling a farm ahead of time before visiting.

You can find the location of the closest berry farm by using the Minnesota Grown directory. It has 85 listings for strawberries, many of them pick-your-own farms. Most farms that have pick-your-own also offer the option of prepicked berries.

Thursday was the first day of strawberry picking at Pine Tree Apple Orchard near White Bear Lake, where the co-owner said this could be "one of the best years ever."

Earlier this month, KTTC in Rochester reported a few strawberry patches were already open for pickers in southeastern Minnesota. Chester Berry Farm owner Joe Kuhl told the station strawberries traditionally are ripe and ready around Father's Day, and most berry pickers wait until then to get their fix.

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