Looking for P.E.I. strawberries? Some are already ripe

P.E.I. strawberries are ripening about 10 days earlier than usual, local growers say.

Fox Creek Farm's strawberry U-pick in Warren Grove, just outside Charlottetown, opened for the season Wednesday at 4 p.m.

"It was a little strange because normally we usually don't open until about the 28th or 27th of June," said owner John Hardy.

He said between 250 and 300 people came by to pick berries Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.

"I think people were just excited to have strawberries a little bit earlier than they were expecting."

John Hardy says people are calling every day to ask when strawberries will be ready to pick at his Fox Creek Farm in Cornwall, P.E.I.
John Hardy, owner of Fox Creek Farm in Warren Grove, says the sable variety of berries is ripe now. (Laura Meader/CBC)

All strawberry growers on P.E.I. are getting close to opening, said Matt Compton, owner of Compton's Farm Market and Berry Patch in Summerside.

Compton, who's also a past president of the P.E.I. Strawberry Growers Association, expects his patch to open in the next couple of days.

The berries ripening now at Fox Creek Farm are an early variety called sable, Hardy said — and the U-pick closed at noon Thursday since most of those berries had been picked.

"We kind of are running low now because we just don't have a large amount of that variety," he said.

"I think it's going to take a few days of rest to get them back up to where we want to get people and start picking again."

Farmer Matt Compton says ensuring workers are properly dressed, hydrated, and an adequate number of breaks is important to making sure they stay safe in hot weather.
Compton's Farm Stand and Berry Patch owner Matt Compton says most Island strawberry U-picks will be open in the next few days. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Compton and Hardy both said an early start to the season can mean lower demand for berries, since many Islanders associate July 1 with strawberries being ready.

Hardy said there have been years when the season started early and ended by the second week of July.

"Most people would be still coming and asking for berries and didn't realize that it was that early," he said.

He said they planted a lot of different varieties this year, including berries that will ripen later in the season.