Jessica A. Chittenden|
June 13, 2008
Commissioner Announces the Arrival of Berry Season in NYS
Strawberries are Ready to Be Picked; Health & Economic Benefits are Plenty
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today celebrated the arrival of berry season in New York State. Berries are an important and expanding sector of the Stateís agricultural industry.
"While strawberries are the first of the season, blueberries, raspberries and others are not too far behind," the Commissioner said, "and with the arrival of berries comes the arrival of summer. Berries are the perfect addition to nearly any meal and offer an abundance of health benefits. They can also provide an excellent source of exercise and education for families that opt to visit a farm and pick berries. The season is well on its way and we expect this season to be a great one for berries, so donít miss out and visit a local berry patch this summer."
The Commissioner made the announcement at Abbott Farms in Baldwinsville (Onondaga County), a farm that recently transitioned a portion of its grain and apple operation to u-pick berries. That transition or expansion of farm operations into berries is becoming more common, especially on fruit farms, where sales are concentrated in the fall. By adding berries to the mix of crops offered, farms can attract customers to their farm earlier and more often in the season, and by offering u-pick, have the opportunity to interact directly with customers.
Paul Baker, Executive Secretary for the New York State Berry Growers Association, said, "The excitement of the arrival of strawberries is that we are able to experience the first sweet tastes of the year. Strawberries are ruby red and sweet to the taste. We are seeing that many new patches are being developed to help expand the draw to the local farm stands. These farm markets, while in both small towns and in suburban green markets, reward everyone with tastes that are not only good for you, but taste so good as well. Strawberry time marks Father's Day and the beginning of a new season down on the farm."
The Stateís strawberry harvest is now in full swing. The season typically starts during the beginning of June and lasts through mid-July. This year, the weather has been nearly perfect for berries with an adequate amount of rainfall and plenty of sun. Raspberries will be ready next in July with a second crop also available in September and October. Blueberries will pick up where raspberries leave off at the end of July, and will be available throughout August, along with blackberries and currants.
Beyond their delicious flavor, locally produced berries are among the most vitamin and antioxidant rich foods available, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fiber, while only containing 46 calories per cup. Blueberries have the highest level of antioxidants of any fruit or vegetable, advancing heart health, reducing the risk of cancer, boosting total body wellness, and reducing "bad" cholesterol. Raspberries are rich in vitamins A, C and E, folic acid, iron and potassium, as well as fiber, but are low in sugar.
New York State has nearly 1,000 berry farms with 3,000 acres of various berries planted. While strawberry production remains flat, the State is experiencing increased production in raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, currants and blackberries.
New York is ranked seventh in the nation in strawberry production, harvesting 1,500 acres of strawberries in 2006, producing nearly 4.5 million pounds at a value of almost $7.5 million. Last year, New York growers also produced 2.2 million pounds of blueberries, a 42 percent increase from the year prior, and 1.6 million pounds of raspberries, a 14 percent increase.
To find a berry grower near you, visit the Pride of New York website at https://www.prideofny.com. The Pride of New York is the Stateís marketing and promotion program for New York State food and agricultural products. The program assists farmers and food processors in branding their products by using the Pride of New York emblem, which also helps consumers identify New York berries and other food items in retail stores.
For more information on New York berries, visit Cornell Cooperative Extensionís on-line Fruit Resource for Berries at http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/berry.html or visit the New York State Berry Growers Association at http://www.nysbga.org.
2008 Press Releases