Tips for Picking Strawberries

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  • Call before you go. Strawberry availability may be affected by the weather and the number of people picking. Go early if you want to pick on a weekend, a busy morning can pick a field out before noon.
  • Bring wide shallow containers that will hold the amount of berries you want to pick. If you layer berries in a deep container, berries on the bottom will get crushed. Don’t layer berries more than 4 inches deep. Some farms furnish picking containers but may charge you for them.
  • Dress for the weather and bring a broad-brimmed hat. It can get hot quickly out in the field. Bring something to drink and a snack (especially if you have kids along).
  • Only pick fully ripe, red berries. Strawberries will not ripen after harvesting.
  • It takes about 10 to 15 minutes to pick a quart of strawberries.
  • Pick strawberries carefully by pinching the stem connecting the berry to the plant with your fingernail. Don’t pull on the berry – you will bruise the berry and may damage the plant.
  • Place berries in containers gently to avoid bruising.
  • Do the grower a favor and if you find strawberries that have rot, sunburn or other issues, pick them and put them in the walkway between the berry rows. If they are left on the plants, they can spread rot to other berries.
  • Please watch your children. Don’t let them trample the rows, climb on farm machinery or wander off.
  • Dress small children in red or dark colors. Then you don’t need to worry about the inevitable stains.
  • Get your berries out of the sun and cool as soon as possible.
  • Strawberries will store in the refrigerator for two to three days but they will start to lose quality quickly.
  • Don’t wash or hull strawberries until just before use. Any moisture, wound or bruising will make the berries more susceptible to mold during storage.
  • Freeze strawberries as soon as possible for long-term storage. Wash berries, remove hulls, slice, sweeten (if desired) and freeze in freezer bags. This is a great time to use a vacuum sealer if you have one.

Written By

Photo of Lisa RayburnLisa RayburnExtension Agent, Agriculture - Horticulture (910) 455-5873 lisa_rayburn@ncsu.eduOnslow County, North Carolina
Posted on Apr 3, 2017
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