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Minnesota's blueberry and raspberry season starts soon

Minnesota blueberry and raspberry varieties are grown for their robust, juicy flavor.

Minnesota blueberries and summer raspberries will be ready for picking soon.

Growers across the state have reported fields full of blossoms and are expecting to be open for pick-your-own and pre-picked blueberries and raspberries the first two weeks of July.

Blueberry and raspberry season starts towards the end of strawberry season. As with strawberries, seasonal availability begins in southern Minnesota and moves northward. Blueberry season usually lasts at least three full weeks, depending on the variety and weather conditions. Mild temperatures in the 70s and 80s extend the season and allow berries to ripen at a steady pace, while excessive heat can cause berries to ripen more quickly and shorten the season.

Minnesota blueberry and raspberry varieties are grown for their robust, juicy flavor and not for long shelf life or shipping ability.

Blueberries and raspberries are best harvested during the morning hours and should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Wait to rinse your berries until you are ready to use them. Raspberries can be kept in the fridge for up to four days, and blueberries will keep for about a week. Both kinds of berries freeze well, too, so you can enjoy them throughout the year.

Use color to gauge ripeness. Color change typically signals that it is time to harvest, so look for a deep color. Mature berries will detach easily. If you have to tug, the berry's not ripe yet.

Picking berries is a great outdoor activity for all ages. Prepare for being outside. Bring hats, sunscreen and a water bottle. Most farms provide containers, but call ahead to ask if you need to bring your own.

The Minnesota Grown Directory, available in print or online, is a great place to find local pick-your-own berry operations or farmers market.