FOOD: Strawberries wrap up, blueberries come in

Berries are ripening on the bush at Smith’s Blueberries in New Ipswich.

Berries are ripening on the bush at Smith’s Blueberries in New Ipswich. COURTESY PHOTO—

Eliza Leclair and Liliana Tumminelli pick strawberries in the fields of Barrett Hill Farm in Mason in early July.

Eliza Leclair and Liliana Tumminelli pick strawberries in the fields of Barrett Hill Farm in Mason in early July. PHOTO BY CAROLINA TUMMINELLI—

Strawberries picked at Barrett Hill Farm in July.

Strawberries picked at Barrett Hill Farm in July. PHOTO BY CAROLINA TUMMINELLI—

By ASHLEY SAARI

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 07-10-2023 3:26 PM

After a slightly truncated strawberry season, a rainy June is leading into blueberry season, with pick-your-own spots opening this past weekend.

Beth LeClair, owner of Barrett Hill Farm in Mason, said pick-your-own strawberry season wrapped last week, although there will be strawberries still available at their farmstand for a few more days as workers clear out the fields.

LeClair said despite an extremely rainy June, it was a successful growing season for Barrett Hill, though the rain did deter some pickers. She said rain is better than drought, which the region has battled several times in the past few years.

“Strawberries require a lot of water, and they got lots of water,” LeClair said. “We definitely had a decrease in customers, but we had enough people to pick the crop that we had. We were satisfied with the season, for sure.”

Wayne Colsia of Paradise Farm in Lyndeborough also grows strawberries, and said that the season was short, but not unduly so. Strawberries have a season that typically lasts between four and six weeks, and this year’s was closer to four. He said rain can be a double-edged sword, making crops more prone to fungal infections, but is an overall good.

“Between drought and rain, we’ll take the rain any day,” Colsia said.

Colsia is also done with his strawberry season, and opened the weekend of July 8 for pick-your-own blueberries, with 500 bushes of Patriot variety berries. He said the rain has been beneficial for the crop.

“It’s a good year, probably one of the best crops I’ve had,” Colsia said. “The berries are nice and big, as they should be. They probably got to half this size last year, with the drought.”

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Colsia said that the farm will be depending on the blueberry and raspberry season more heavily this year than in prior years, due to early year freezes and spring frosts that have affected some of his later crops, including peaches.

“There won’t be a peach in New England this year,” Colsia said, his own crop having been impacted by a two-day deep freeze in February. His apple crop has also been impacted by a May frost.

“We’re counting on the blueberries and raspberries, and luckily, I’m very happy with them,” Colsia said. “The branches are weighed down with berries.”

Lorraine Rodier, owner of Smith’s Blueberries in New Ipswich, said the same frost that affected Colsia’s apples did have an impact on her blueberry bushes, but she anticipates only about a 10 percent crop loss. She opened for picking this past weekend with her earliest varieties, but said she’ll be looking for some sunshine to help hurry along the ripening of the rest of her crop.

“Too much [rain] can definitely be a bad thing, if you’re not on top of management and diseases. It can make the berries drop, if they have too much water. So this week is a little nerve-wracking,” Rodier said. “But I have faith that this is just a lot of water we needed, and soon everything will be fine. it doesn’t take much sun for them to turn blue at this stage – even a few hours a day.”

With Barrett Hill’s strawberry season concluded, they too are moving into the pick-your-own blueberry season, with several acres of high-bush blueberries.

“It’s coming in, and I presume that we’ll be picking by next week,” LeClair said on Thursday.

Paradise Farm is located at 468 Center Road in Lyndeborough and is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily for pick-your-own blueberries. Smith’s Blueberries is located at 265 Turnpike Rd. in New Ipswich and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for pick-your-own blueberries. Barrett Hill Farm is located at 103 Barrett Hill Rd. in Mason and is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.