Thurston County residents looking to buy strawberries from Spooner Berry Farms can expect wide availability by early this week.
Co-owner Sue Spooner told The Olympian that she expects strawberries to be available at all 12 of their locations by Tuesday. She said the cool weather slightly delayed their opening plans.
“The berries are getting close, but this last week when the weather got a little cooler, it slowed down the ripening,” Spooner said. “The berries look tremendous. We just need a few more warm days and then, probably by about (June 15) we’ll have everything up and going.”
Spooner’s Yelm Highway stand has been open in the mornings for more than a week with limited supply. Spooner said they chose to open that stand a little early to sell the few strawberries that ripen early.
“They don’t magically arrive all at once,” Spooner said. “It’s like a berry on this row, a berry on this row and you have to go and get those picked off so that they don’t go bad before the rest of them get ripe like 10 days later.”
She said the Yelm Highway stand has sold out within a couple hours each day, forcing her to turn away eager customers. But the scarcity will be gone by next week, she said.
“We’ve got fields full of berries and once they are ripe, the stand will be open all day for the whole month of June,” Spooner said.
Farm stands should open by 8 a.m. and all other locations by 9:30 a.m. once they are open, she said.
People who wish to pick their own strawberries will be out of luck for the second year in a row. Despite decreasing disease activity, Spooner said her farms will not host its U-Pick program due to COVID-19 concerns.
“To get to the berry fields, we have a berry cart that people get on and ride and we just didn’t feel we could that,” Spooner said. “That’s part of the whole experience. … We want it to feel just normal, so we just felt it was best to wait until next year.”
Despite the pandemic, Spooner said there was high demand for berries last year. She said she thinks the regular sale of berries may have been comforting for locals.
“I’m assuming people weren’t taking vacations anywhere,” she said. “Especially for the last year where so many things were shut down, the berries were one normal thing that was still going on that we’ve been doing for years.”
Spooner said her farm grows an especially sweet strawberry variety and picks them at 5 a.m. each day.
“I think the freshness of the berries and the varieties that we raise is what makes them so special,” Spooner said. “The flavor is just incredible.”
Raspberries, marionberries and blackberries should be in season in July, followed by blueberries in August, according to the Spooner Berry Farms website.