Strawberry picking already wrapping up in the Chippewa Valley

By: Matt Hoffman Email
By: Matt Hoffman Email

Bloomer. Wis. (WEAU) -- For many families the nice weather today may mean a trip to the strawberry patch. But, you might not find any fruit in many strawberry patches.

Tammy Pieper and her kids have come out several times this month to mac's berries to fill their pails with some ripe and delicious strawberries. "Get some more strawberries. There's still going. Got to make some more strawberry shortcake!"

For many here in Western Wisconsin strawberry picking is a summer tradition, but thanks to an odd spring your time of heading out to the strawberry patch is quickly running out.

"It's busy in the morning. We open at six. People are coming at 5:30 and want to beat the heat and take some to work. We're usually busy until 11 or 12 o'clock," says Brian McIlquham, co-owner of Mac’s Berries in Bloomer.

Govin's over in Menomonie and Appledore Woods just south of Eau Claire are already done for the season. Mac's berries says they’ll likely be done by this Saturday. Well ahead of the Fourth of July.

"Normally we're going until around July 10th," says McIlquham. The strawberry season got off to a fast start with picking beginning here daily starting on June 10th. Well ahead of the usual start around June 20th.

Mcilquham says the unprecedented warm spring we had threw everything out of whack. Some patches he says may have finished earlier as a result of a bug problem. "A lot of them...there was a bug that came in, and disseminated a lot of patches. We fortunately haven't been hit with it." That’s good news for some of these final berry pickers of the season.

"It’s doing well. The rains we had last week coming down. We had about an inch and a half in a matter of 10 minutes. That kind of spoiled a bunch of them but there's a lot out there that you just pick those. Drop them off and pick the good ones and put them in your pail."

Not all the berries make in the pail though...

"They eat while they pick. Sometimes more in the mouth than in the pail," says Pieper.

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