Press-Republican

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July 8, 2013

Strawberries plump for picking

Tips for making the most of the pick-your-own experience

PERU — What’s better than a sweet, plump, juicy summer strawberry?

A sweet, plump, juicy summer strawberry that you picked yourself.

The pick-your-own summer-produce season is now underway. Linda Facteau, the produce retail and wholesale manager at Rulfs Orchard in Peru, offered a few suggestions recently on how to make the most of the pick-your-own produce experience. She said now is the time to pick strawberries; the season began about the third week of June.

“You can pick well into the third week of July,” said Facteau, who is also the orchard’s greenhouse manager. “And we go back-to-back with blueberries.”

TOMATOES

The orchard also offers a fall crop of pick-your-own apples and pumpkins later in the growing season. One crop has gained in popularity in the past few years.

“This will be our third year we’re trying you-pick tomatoes,” she said. “If you’re canning or making your own salsa, you have fun with that.”

Facteau said the tomatoes will be ready to pick by the third week of August, and the season goes into September.

“It’s a great thing to pick your own tomatoes because you’ll get canning tomatoes without any blemishes.”

‘BEAUTIFUL CROP’

Back to the strawberry season — albeit a rainy one — Facteau said not to let a little rainfall stop you.

“I think you had better have webbed feet to pick strawberries this year,” she quipped. “Berries are very perishable, so you need to pick them at just the right time, rain or shine.”

Facteau said the turnout has been good, nonetheless.

“And it’s a beautiful crop this year.”

When there’s rain and dirt, there’s mud. In a 5-acre strawberry patch, Rulfs’ laid straw down in between the plant rows to absorb some of the excess water to make it easier to navigate.

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