0709.Strawberries.2.webWith a long line of traffic, it was difficult getting in and out of the parking lot at Moll’s Berry Farm last week on the day before the Fourth of July. For Bob Moll, owner of the pre- and self-pick berry farm, that means business was booming over the busy summer holiday, despite a slow start to the strawberry season.

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Local strawberry picking off to ripe start in county

Published 11:04am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

“It’s always a slow start with the berries, but it picks up pretty quickly,” Moll said. “It’s a better crop this year and plants are growing much better.”

July 1 marked this year’s first day of picking at Moll’s, located on Highway 78 just off Otter Tail Lake. The farm was busy last week before the holiday as vacationers and locals looked for outdoor activity.

This year started later that last year, which started on June 11. 2012, however, was an abnormally short season, ending by June 22. Usually, seasons will last for two to three weeks, according to Moll. A dry season limited the number of berries each plant produced.

Cold weather delayed the current season, but a mix of rain, warm and cool weather through June has helped increase the number of berries Moll expects to have picked.

“Even down by the cities they’re usually a week or a week and a half in front of us,” Moll said. “But we hope it will be an average season.”

The late start only delays the ripening, Moll said, and won’t affect the taste of the berries when they’re picked.

Strawberries will, however, be sweeter when picked on a sunny day, according to Moll, and a lot of rain can also affect the flavor. With a stretch of recent sun and heat, it should be a sweet time to get out in the field.

Experts across the state say Minnesota’s 87 strawberry farms are about two weeks behind their normal schedule, according to an article by WCCO in Minneapolis. Other strawberry farms expect to see higher yields in the state as well.

At Herzog Berries outside of Fergus Falls, self-picked berries should be finished by the end of the week. This picking season, which started June 29, has been bountiful, according to Herzog.

“We’re probably about 75 percent done,” Herzog said. “I think the cool spring helped the plants develop and produce a lot more.”

Herzog estimates that they have produced 25,000 pounds of strawberries this year and should have 8,000 to 10,000 left to harvest. This time last year, they had harvested just over half of what has been picked already.

The trend should continue next year as well, Herzog said. After frost destroyed a number of plants that were left uncovered by a lack of snowfall in the mild winter, Herzog compensated for losses with even more plants.

“Next year we should have almost double what we had this year,” Herzog said. “We’ll have more plants, so there will be a better opportunity to get more berries.”

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