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Start of strawberry season

Sandy Carroll met up with her aunt to go strawberry picking on opening day at Wyatt's Strawberries in Hastings. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Landen Donatelle picked this bucket of berries. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Nancy Nelson of Mendota Heights has been coming to Wyatt's Strawberries for over 20 years. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
People were ready to get into the strawberry fields on opening day at Wyatt's on June 22. Sarah Hansen / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

Strawberry season has officially begun in Minnesota. A little late due to the long winter, but here nonetheless.

Although people are eager and ready for fresh strawberries, the question this year becomes, are the strawberries ready for them?

Shawn Lorence of Lorence's Berry Farm in Northfield said his early bloomers — Galletta, Jewel and Rutgers Scarlet — sustained quite a bit of damage this winter and won't produce as well as usual. Their u-pick operations will be cut back as a result and the strawberries they do have for sale will mostly be pre-picked boxes.

Lorence said the mid- and late-blooming varieties — Cavendish, Moalla and Valley Sunset — will produce well, but their farm has a limited number of these. He said he anticipates being open for regular u-pick hours after July 4, but he and many other growers this season are suggesting strongly that you call ahead for current growing conditions before dropping by.

Wyatt's Strawberries in Hastings opened to the public at 7 a.m. Friday, June 22, and will have regular u-pick hours seven days a week. About a dozen berry pickers arrived at Wyatt's first-thing to cull the plumpest berries, and maybe sample a few as well.

Nancy Nelson of Mendota Heights said she has been picking at Wyatt's for over 20 years. She was out picking early with her niece, Sandy Carroll, who lives about a half-mile away from Wyatt's. Though the two had picked there separately over the years, this was the first time they decided to meet up and pick side-by-side down neighboring rows.

Other families and individuals were out in the fields, crouched and searching for the perfect batch. Toddler Layla Feivor was pouty and uninterested, but her brother Henry, with juice running down his chin, appeared to be having a good time.