Berry season comes early

If this year’s strawberries are any indication, it looks like there could be a bumper crop of berries here this year–and an early one at that.
Blair Lowey of Lowey’s Greenhouse said his U-pick berry patch, which normally isn’t ready until July, has a good couple of weeks on the season. In fact, he and his family already have started to pick ripe berries.
“We’ll probably have some this weekend at the farmers’ market,” he noted. “We’ll sell them in pint-size baskets. They look good and taste good, too. Nice and sweet.
“It’s pretty early,” he added. “I don’t think Thunder Bay is ready yet. We’ll definitely be opening the U-pick next week.”
Things are looking just as good for Fred and Ursula Burner, who own a U-pick strawberry patch on Highway 619 north of Pinewood. While their patch may be a little behind Lowey’s, they’ve also started to pick a few berries for their own consumption.
“They should be ready by the first of July, maybe a little bit sooner,” she said. “It looks like I’m going to have a very good crop out there.”
Both fields fared well over the winter although neither farm made it through unscathed.
“The winter was good for mild but bad for snow,” Lowey said, noting the less hardy varieties of berries were thinned out.
“I did lose some to winter kill but it wasn’t serious,” echoed Burner.
Lowey also has been making use of his irrigation system to help push the berry along.
“Strawberries require an inch and a half of water a week,” he said, noting that depended strictly on the weather since moisture can be unreliable.
With a strong strawberry season all but here, Burner hinted it’s a good omen for other berries which ripen later in the summer.
“I have a few raspberry canes for myself and they’re loaded,” she remarked. “I think it should be a good berry year.”