When strawberry season arrives in Minnesota, area residents flock to local farms to handpick the berries during their brief growing season.
Visitors were doing so June 27 at the Klingelhutz Strawberry Farm, near Waconia. They crouched down between rows of the patch, finding the bright red among the green.
David Klingelhutz shows visitors where to pick at the farm. He advises picking only the strawberries that are fully ripe.
“It’s a busy time of year,” he said, leaning down to pick the strawberries he sends to customers as part of his Consumer Supported Agriculture business.
Minnesota’s strawberry picking season started slow due to cold temperatures, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
Klingelhutz said the high temperatures that finished June quickened the season. If the hot weather would continue through the weekend of June 28 and 29, he anticipated the season would be over in a few days.
Strawberries ripen with heat. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, June strawberries give a large and concentrated crop. After plants flower, the season runs four weeks until fruit is finished being picked.
“It’s going to smell like jam out here after this weekend, but hopefully we can get a lot of good people out here picking,” he said.
On June 27, storm clouds were hanging on the horizon of the Waconia farm.
Even though rain was less than an hour away, 15 cars were pulled up alongside the strawberry patch at the farm. Klingelhutz estimates there were 3,500 to 4,000 pounds of strawberries in the field at the time. It’s the farm’s third year with strawberries. He charges $3 a pound for the strawberries visitors pick themselves.
“If there are this many people here right now, you can imagine what it would be like on a sunny day,” he said. “Yesterday it was packed.”
Out of the crops he grows — onion, broccoli, sweet corn, tomatoes and summer squash among them — Klingelhutz said strawberries are the most labor-intensive.
The Extension divides Minnesota into zones for which strawberry varieties do well and where. A Minnesota Grown directory shows 75 strawberry farms sprinkled across the state.
Sad to have missed strawberry picking season? The Department of Agriculture recently issued a press release saying the raspberry and blueberry growers are anticipating full fields for the first two weeks of July. According to the Minnesota Grown directory, Minnesota has 34 summer raspberry farms and 31 blueberry farms.