How to Pick Strawberries

help1Large or small - a ripe, luscious berry is ready-to-eat when their color is bright and deep red. Berries with white on them need a few more days to mature. Don't worry about leaving an unripe berry, the fields are picked several times during the course of a season. To find the berries, look under the leaves. It is best to pick with both hands. Look thoroughly under the leaves so that you do not leave ripe berries. A ripe berry may spoil by the next time the field is picked. When picking berries from the plant, pinch or pull the stem from the plant and be sure to leave the stem on each berry. Removing the stem dramatically reduces the strawberry's shelf life. When you arrive at the picking field you will be assigned a row to pick in. Please pick only in the assigned row. When you have picked all you want, move the flag that marked where you began to the spot where you end.

Other Strawberry Picking Tipshelp2

  • We sell pre-picked strawberries by the quart box. U-pick strawberries are sold by the pound.
  • Be sure to pick all the ripe strawberries, regardless of size. It is a common misconception that small red strawberries will become larger if left to grow. If a strawberry is red, it is done growing and will spoil if left behind.
  • Ripe berries of any kind are very perishable and need to be handled gently.
  • Protect the berries from direct sunlight and don't leave them in a hot car. The trunk of your car can be a very hot place on a sunny day. Some people bring coolers to transport their berries in.
  • Store berries in the coolest place of your home - the refrigerator or basement floor.
  • Leave the stems on and don't rinse off the berries until you are ready to eat them or process them.

Strawberry Varieties

Many people are surprised to learn that, like apples and potatoes, there are several different varieties of strawberries. Strawberry varieties may differ in size, color, taste, softness, shape, and time of ripening.

We grow the following varieties:

    • Kent:  This has been our main variety for several years. Customers find Kents easy to pick with good flavor. They are most often featured for our pre-picked sales. Kent is a relatively new variety developed in Nova Scotia. They are noted for their large, firm berries which make them excellent for fresh deserts or for freezing. Kents have a good flavor that is somewhat milder than Sparkle. Berries are medium red and glossy.
    • Cavendish:  Developed in Nova Scotia, the plants produce large, firm berries with good flavor. Berries sometimes are not completely red when ripe.
    • AC Wendy: Developed in Nova Scotia, the berries are bright red with excellent flavor. Good for fresh eating, jam, and freezing.

How to Grow Strawberries

help3Strawberries are the most widely grown small fruit crop in Maine, and nearly all of the fruit is sold fresh through "pick-your-own" markets.

The production system most commonly used in New England is the matted row. Plants are set out in the spring with about 18 inches between crowns and about four feet between rows. Flowers are removed during the planting year. Runner plants are allowed to root between the plants to form a row approximately two feet wide. Narrow plant rows are preferred to maximize fruit quality and ease of harvest. The plants are mulched in late October to provide winter protection. Oat or barley straw is the mulching material of choice. Mulch is usually removed in late April. Harvest typically begins about the fourth week of June and continues for three to four weeks. Renovation of the plantings begins immediately after the harvest season is complete. The beds are mowed off, thinned and fertilizer is applied. Weed control, irrigation and supplemental fertilization are carried out throughout the remainder of the growing season.

Strawberry beds are usually kept for three to five harvest years before being plowed down and replanted.

(Source: This information adapted from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service publication.)

Strawberry Facts

    • One strawberry has more than 400 seeds!help4
    • Strawberries and raspberries are members of the rose family!
    • The large modern strawberry was born in France and was the result of a chance cross between plants from North America and Chile!
    • Strawberries are either June-bearing or ever-bearing. June-bearers flower and fruit in response to a certain day length. Most Maine farmers plant June bearing strawberries!
    • Strawberry season usually last 3 weeks
    • A quart of strawberries weighs about 1½ pounds.
    • 1½ quarts are needed for one 9-inch pie
    • Strawberries contain no fat, cholesterol, or salt.
    • Eight medium strawberries contain 140% of the U.S. RDA for Vitamin C.