The Cherry and Berry Report
I have been gathering up all the latest information on our local cherry and berry crops. Everything is early this year! Here's what I have learned:
Strawberries are pretty much over for u-pickers. The Berry Patch (541-440-8484, no website) is officially done with strawberries, though they tell me they get a second, lighter crop in July and you can ask to pick them. I've had several people tell me that the strawberries they picked at The Berry Patch were not very sweet this year. Most of the berries I picked were turned into jam, so this was not an issue for me. My favorite strawberries for fresh eating are the seascape variety that I buy from Big Lick Farm at the farmers market (either Lookingglass Grange on Fridays or Umpqua Valley Farmers Market on Saturdays). I planted seascapes in my garden this year and I'm just beginning to harvest them. Oh so sweet! Big Lick should have them through September. There were still a few folks u-picking at the Kruse Farms field on Quail Lane this afternoon, but they had to really hunt for them.
Cherries will be available for u-picking for another three weeks or so at Brosi's Sugartree Farms in Winston and for about two weeks at the Kruse Farms orchard off of Quail Lane. Brosi's has dwarf trees for those of us who don't like climbing up ladders, though I picked 22 pounds of dark, sweet cherries at Kruse's this afternoon mostly from the ground or using the very short ladders. Kruse's orchard is small, so go soon if you don't want to have to pick from the tippy-tops. Pie cherries might be getting scarce by now. Guido Orchards (aka Shady Lane Orchards) had an abundance of pie cherries last week, but not many ripe sweet cherries that were easy to get to. I don't know anything about light cherries like Royal Anne or Rainier because we never eat them. That's what they use for maraschino cherries.
Raspberries are available right now for u-pick at Brosi's, Kruse Farms, and The Berry Patch should have them this weekend. They will be at their peak for the next couple of weeks. If you don't like bees you might want to wait a week or so until all of the blossoms are gone. I sometimes get nervous in the middle of the row with all that buzzing around me, but I refuse to let the bees keep me from the berries.
Kruse's has Marionberries and an early variety of blackberries right now, too, and they will start u-picking boysenberries on Saturday. The Berry Patch will have all of these berries coming on in the next few weeks and many of their varieties are thornless, which makes my fingers very happy.
Blueberries! Everyone keeps asking me about blueberries! Norris Blueberry Farm is already picking their berries, though they don't allow u-pick anymore. Brosi's blueberries are just coming on now and they have bushes that produce berries all the way into September. Big Bend Berries in Garden Valley will likely open next week. Ed said to check the News Review on Monday for their opening date, which may be Tuesday or Wednesday. Haven Blueberry Farm in Tyee says they may open sometime next week, but to watch their website for the official date. I'll let you know as soon as I know.
Whew! Once they get started, the berries all come at once. Have I forgotten anything? We live in cherry/berry heaven!!! Stay tuned to see what I'm doing with all the fruit I pick.