Strawberry season got off to an early start at Pumpkin Hill Produce Farms in Nescopeck and the weather has made conditions perfect for picking.
Pumpkin Hill Produce Farms opened for strawberry picking on May 26 and a few other days after that. Owner Harry Roinick said strawberry season should be in full swing starting this weekend. The right weather conditions brought big red ripe strawberries early, he said.
“This is a different year than other years. The weather was just right. It wasn’t freezing cold,” Roinick said. “They love the sun and heat.”
With hot temperatures in the forecast this week, Roinick expects the successful strawberry picking season will continue. Pumpkin Hill Produce Farms already has been drawing crowds, he said. He encourages people to bring their own containers to pick strawberries.
“I think it’s going to be one of the best years,” Roinick said. “We had a big crowd on the first day and we had a big crowd on Memorial Day.”
Nescopeck resident Ronald Beach, 81, who picked strawberries at Pumpkin Hill Produce Farms on Thursday, said he visits the farm twice a week.
“I pick strawberries enough to bake a cake,” Beach said. “And when those run out I pick more, so I can bake more cake.”
Other strawberry farms in Northeast Pennsylvania plan to open soon for picking.
Stacy Field, who operates Whistle Pig Pumpkin Patch in Noxen with her husband Joel, said strawberry season typically starts the second weekend of June but if the weather gets super hot again as it is forecasted, they could open sooner. She said their opening date will depend on the weather and they will announce it on their Facebook page, on their website whistlepigpumpkin.com or on a message by calling 570-298-0862.
Strawberries thrive in hot weather and high temperatures in the forecast this week will be a big help for strawberries, she said.
Many people came out last year to pick strawberries during the COVID-19 pandemic and Field expects a “very enthusiastic repeat crowd” this season. People like to pick strawberries to make things like strawberry shortcake, strawberry rhubarb pie and strawberry and banana smoothies, she said.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Field said. “It’s a fun experience and people like to come out with their kids and we see smiles. They’re so happy to get out. We think it will be the same this year.”
People are encouraged to bring their own containers or they can buy white buckets for $2 or little green containers for 20 cents.
The price of strawberries at Whistle Pig Pumpkin Patch will increase slightly this year from $1.90 a pound to $2 a pound as a result of higher input costs, Field said. She said they are now paying more for fertilizer, fuel, plants, seeds and irrigation materials.
“Everything is up,” she said. “Everything just went crazy as far as costs go.”
LaCoe’s Berry Nice Farm in Newton Twp. should open for strawberry picking this week as long as temperatures are warm but the date will depend on the weather, said Richard LaCoe, who owns the farm with his wife Regina.
An early frost and deer created some challenges this season but LaCoe said the strawberries are “looking good right now.”
People can bring their own containers to pick strawberries at LaCoe’s Berry Nice Farm or buy containers for $1 each.
Pallman Farms in South Abington Twp. expects to kick off strawberry picking season between June 10 and June 15, according to a Facebook post.
“It won’t be long now,” the post stated. “The warm weather and sunshine lately is just what our plants needed.”
As U-pick strawberry fields throughout Northeast Pennsylvania gear up for the season, Lakeland Orchard & Cidery in Scott Twp. plans to open a Strawberry Festival on June 19. For a limited time, people can try strawberry shortcake at the festival with fresh sliced strawberries over Pennsylvania pound cake topped with whipped cream and they can add Manning’s ice cream.
The Strawberry Festival will open at Lakeland Orchard & Cidery every Thursday from June 19 to July 25 and people also can try other strawberry-flavored food and drinks like strawberry doughnuts, king slush and lemonade. The festival also will feature live music. Ticket information can be found at lakelandorchard.com.