Picker's delight: raspberry, blueberry seasons taking center stage

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Raspberry and blueberry patches are about to become the next hit spot as berry crops are hitting their peak seasons in Minnesota.

Farmers across the state are reporting fields full of ripening berries and anticipate a strong season, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture said in a news release.

This comes just a couple years after Minnesota had one of the best berry crop in quite some time.

Many producers in the southern half of the state started picking in early July. Northern berries are expected to ripen for picking in mid- to late July.

Jessica Miles, agricultural marketing specialist with the MDA’s Minnesota Grown Program, suggests calling ahead before visiting a berry farm.

“Calling ahead and checking with your farmer ensures availability of berries and favorable conditions,” Miles said. “Enjoy the plentiful berry crop this year by picking berries with your friends or family. Many farms are family-friendly and berry picking can be a fun and healthy summer day trip.”

As blueberries and raspberries steal the limelight, strawberries are still available in parts of northern Minnesota.

Mild temperatures in the 70s and low 80s extended the season and allow berries to ripen at a steady pace, Minnesota Grown explained. Some strawberries will still be in their prime for the next week or so.

The 2016 Minnesota Grown Directory lists 63 summer raspberry producers and 31 blueberry farms selling pick-your-own, pre-picked berries, or both.

It means the pickings are plentiful for those who like to visit farms to fill their own cartons and buckets. An interactive map on the Minnesota Grown website can help pickers find a pick-your-own berry farm.

The Wisconsin Berry Grower’s Association also includes information on picking farms.

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