Weather this year has affected just about every facet of outdoor activity this year, from fishing to gardening to picking strawberries.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture says the cooler than normal spring has delayed the strawberry season by one to two weeks this year, and that has proven true locally. If there is an upside to that, it's that then season is expected to be extended a couple of weeks, making locally produced strawberries available past the Fourth of July.
Kirsten Phelps owns Phelps English Gardens west of Good Thunder. She had expected to open her pick your own strawberry bed by the first week of June this year, her first year of PYO operations.
“My plants got nipped by frost in the middle of May, which set everything back a couple of weeks.”
Phelps had planned ahead with her crop, planting early bearing, mid season bearing and late season bearing varieties. By doing so, she expected she'd have a ripened crop all summer long.
“I didn't want them all ready at the same time,” she says. “But this year might be an exception to the rule.”
Though the plan had been to open for pick your own business this June, four factors have put her plans on hold. The harsh weather conditions last winter caused some winter kill in her strawberry plants, so she will have to replant some areas.
The May frost pushed back the season for ripe strawberries. The heavy rains in June have made it too soggy to work in the bed, and an invasion of spider mites has made it difficult for the ripening berries to survive.
David Wagner's Inspired Acres near Le Sueur is also experiencing a late season for strawberries. He was able to open for the pick-your-own business last week. That was a couple of weeks later than he had anticipated opening.