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Oh boy berry picking! The season is upon us. Hello Wisconsin! (yes, a That ’70’s Show reference) also Minnesota and the Dakotas. Hang on northern Minnesota, you might be a week behind but soon it’s Strawberry Fields forever… or until July.
The typical strawberry season is two-three weeks long but the length of harvest varies from farm to farm depending on varieties planted, weather, and soil type.
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.
There are a multitude of strawberry farms across Minnesota and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, go to pickyourown.org. In Minnesota, go to minnesotagrown.com. You can also check your local County extension offices for information.
Experts say “Leave the berries in their natural state until you are ready to use them, THEN wash them up. Waiting to wash the berries will keep them fresher longer and will help them from going bad prematurely. Strawberries should be eaten within three days of picking for best flavor!
For longer preservation, wash the berries, remove their stems, and freeze them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. After freezing, place the strawberries in freezer bags.
Berry picking is a great family event. Just remember to dress for the weather and wear sunscreen!
Should you choose to grow your own, there are some great berries for colder climates. ‘Itasca’, ‘Tristar’ and ‘Tribute’ are but a few!
The U of MN extension has lots more information on varieties and growing essentials. There are 3 types of strawberries that can be grown here. June bearing, everbearing, which actually deliver 2 crops, one in the Spring and another in the Fall and the newer “day-neutral’ that bear throughout the season. Instructions on the U of MN website should hold true for anywhere in the Upper Midwest.
Alpine Strawberries are a ‘day-neutral’ sort and different from the rest of the crowd. The U of MN says they are “not a cultivar but a different type/species of strawberry. Grows well in part shade. Does not produce runners, so plants remain small” and so does the fruit. It’s like eating candy from what I’ve read! Here’s a link to a place that sells only Alpinestrawberries
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