As we enter the pick-your-own season, many people are curious about how our crops are looking this summer. We are happy to report that even though the weather has been quite eventful in this part of Pennsylvania (with an unusually cold winter, a sudden spring freeze and golf-ball-sized hail in some parts of Berks County), we have many great crops to harvest. We will be able to offer a strong pick-your-own season now through fall, and you can look forward to a particularly bountiful strawberry, blueberry and raspberry harvest.
Strawberries are now open for pick-your-own, and the cool spring has been excellent for producing a crop of big, sweet berries. Our four acres of strawberries were able to grow large and sweet while the weather was cool, and now that we have had hot days, they are turning red and are ready to pick. We expect a fantastic strawberry crop that will last through the majority of June.
Red raspberries will ripen next, around June 21st, and we will have a full acre of these berries available for pick-your-own. This winter’s fluctuating temperatures–dipping down to -5 degrees some days–did affect a portion of our raspberry crop, and this will affect our ability to provide wholesale berries to other retailers. However, we are excited that we will have a strong crop available for pick-your-own and our market.
Blueberries will start the next week, around the 25th, with four acres of lush pick-your-own fruit. Then, the first week in July, our acre of black raspberries will ripen and will have fully kicked in by the 4th of July weekend. Our half-acre of blackberries will start to ripen in mid-July and will be going strong by August 1.
We’ll see a vibrant crop of peaches and nectarines, starting around July 10 for clingstone varieties and the beginning of August for freestone.
Our plum crop, spread across two acres, is looking good and will start around July 15.
Our thirty-five acres of apples also pulled through the eventful winter and spring and the crop is looking good. Some varieties will be on the lighter side; we will have fewer Jonagold and Crispin apples to offer our retailers, but pick-your-own and our market will not see a big change from last year and the earliest varieties will start in mid-July.
Many people are probably wondering about the affect of last month’s hail storm, which damaged a lot of property in the Reading area. We are fortunate that the hailstorm was not as bad in our part of Berks County. Peaches can absorb the hit from hail and were not significantly damaged. Mostly, some of our apples were affected. Apples grow in clusters of 1-4 fruits, and we will spend time looking through each cluster and removing damaged fruit so that the other apples in the cluster will be able to grow larger. This will involve hard labor, but it will bring out an excellent apple crop later this season.
Unfortunately, due to the sudden 50-degree temperature drop we experienced in April, most of our cherries and apricots did not make it. We are sorry that because of this we will not have sweet or sour cherries or apricots for pick-your-own. We will, however, have some sour cherries to offer in our market beginning in early July.
We are blessed to have excellent strawberry, blueberry and raspberry crops to offer in early summer and are looking ahead to a flourishing crop in late summer as well, with abundant plums, peaches and apples. In addition, many of you now look forward to our kiwi berries, and they are looking beautiful.
Pick-Your-Own Fruit Forecast
Strawberries: NOW through the majority of June.
Red Raspberries: start around June 21.
Blueberries: start around June 28.
Black Raspberries: start around July 3.
Blackberries: start in mid-July.
Peaches & Nectarines: start around July 26 for pick-your-own. In the market, we expect them to arrive July 10 (clingstone) and the beginning of August (freestone).
Sugar Plums: start around July 19.
Apples: earliest varieties start in mid-July.
Kiwi Berries: start in late September.