The strawberry U-pick season is officially underway at Friedensfeld Honey & Berry Farm. 

Owner Andy Loewen says it has been a really good start to the season, noting their plants came through the winter surprisingly well. Loewen says he was quite concerned that there might be a lot of winterkill, especially with the mild weather we had in January. With highs reaching at least five degrees Celsius late that month, Loewen says their strawberry patches lost all of their snow cover. 

"I was very worried about winterkill, but it's amazing, the plants actually survived quite well," he says. "So, the fields are looking beautiful."

He notes that because their fields are on sandy soil, they drain well, and all of the rain this spring and summer has not been too detrimental.

"It has been okay for most of our fields," he says. "I'd say we have a total of about an acre or maybe half an acre that's maybe kind of saturated."

Loewen says the majority of their fields are in really good condition with a beautiful crop coming in, which is encouraging to see. 

He notes they have 35 acres of production, and each year will replant one-third of that. That means plowing down about 12 acres and planting fresh. 

Loewen says they are not an organic farm. He notes they did try some organic production at one point, but it did not work well for them. Loewen says it is a tough sell because very few people want to pay more for an organic product. 

Opening day at Friedensfeld Honey & Berry Farm this year was July 1st. Loewen says that date certainly varies from year to year. He recalls last year they were picking already on June 20th, while some years the opening day has been pushed back to July 6th. 

By 7:30 Friday morning, the parking area at Friedensfeld Honey & Berry Farm was already quite full. Loewen says it is shaping up to be the busiest day of the week, noting it seems that a lot of people were still away on holidays after the Canada Day long weekend. 

"But this is very normal for kind of the beginning of our U-pick season," he points out. 

Loewen says their berries look amazing.

"People are just very happy," he says. "If our customers are happy, we are happy. It's looking very positive."

According to Loewen, they expect the strawberry season to last another two to three weeks. He says a lot of that will depend on the heat, noting daytime highs of 25 degrees are perfect berry weather. 

Meanwhile, for those who cannot make it out to Friedensfeld Honey & Berry Farm, either for U-pick or pre-pick, Loewen says they also sell their strawberries at a couple of places in Steinbach, including Evangeline's Flower Hut and Nature's Farm.