What’s red and prickly all over? Strawberries! Yes, it is that time of the year again: Strawberry season is upon us, but not for long.
New York’s strawberry season is a short one. Harvesting begins around June and continues through the end of the month. But this year, after a long and hard winter, the window has gotten smaller, according to farmers on the East End.
Gekee Wickham, stand manager at Wickham’s Fruit Farm on the North Fork, said that the winter has caused the harvest to be delayed for a while.
“The season has started very slowly,” said Wickham. “We are behind last year by 10 days. By Memorial Day last year, we had strawberries. This year, we didn’t have any.”
Wickham’s fruit is grown on some of the oldest continually cultivated land in the country. Much of the farm dates from 1661, which gives Wickham’s a historic, bicentennial farm with scenic views overlooking Peconic Bay.
The farm is approximately 300 acres, with 200 of those acres baring fruit. After strawberry season concludes in July, raspberries and blueberries will cover the fields. Finally, in August, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches and apples will be available for the picking.
“When it’s slow, we lose business,” commented Wickham. “But now that it’s started, it’s very, very nice.”
To pick at Wickham’s, patrons must be U-Pick members. The memberships costs $20 for the whole summer and is open to the whole family. Tours can be arranged for a full day of picking fruit at the farm. But those planning to go strawberry picking better act fast as Wickham says that the season is coming to a close this Saturday.
The Mattituck Strawberry Festival is also this Saturday, and the Long Island Rail Road is offering special fares for the occassion.
Wickham’s Fruit Farm is opened Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The farm is closed on Sundays. To reach the farm, call 631-734-6441. It is located at 28700 Rt. 25 in Cutchogue.
To find more strawberry farms on Long Island, visit the New York State Berry Growers website at www.nysbga.org