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Strawberry picking season getting closer in the Northwoods

Strawberry field
Isak Dinesen
WAOW Television
Strawberry field

It isn't quite strawberry-picking season in Lincoln County, but it's getting close.

Berry crops at Engelberry Farm are growing, but are about 75% of the way to being ripe, according to co-owner Mike Matushak.

"Once we get blossoms and then the fruit starts setting, then you're in that last two week cycle of that fruit setting," he said.

The berries' growth has been helped by a relatively warm winter and a recent stretch of weather with lots of sunshine and rainfall.

"Snow helps, one inch of snow is equal to twelve inches of mulch, so you get a lot of winter protection with snow, but it didn't hurt us this year because we didn't have the extreme cold temperatures, so that helped," Matushak said. "As long as you don't get those below-zero nights or multi-days of below zero at night, it doesn't hurt the plant," he added.

The hope is this year's yield becomes especially fruitful, given the conditions.

"If you're waiting for that fruit to ripen, the best thing you can have is some sunnier days with some mediocre to warm nights that pushes the fruit more so it ripens quicker," Matushak said.

As for the picking process, the farm has sequenced its fields based on how long ago they planted, and once people are welcome to pick berries, they'll walk you through how to get the best ones if you haven't done it before.

"The best way for us is we want everybody to pick anything that's ripe, and the reason that is, it's the healthiest for the plant and you're going to get a better product when the product is ready to be picked," Matushak said.

Current projections have picking season ready for the area around June 15-20, pending future weather.

The best way to know exactly when people can start picking is to contact the grower directly.

Engelberry Farm has a public Facebook group that features updates on the growing season and Matushak says is a good place for truly knowing when picking season will begin.

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