Ann Oestereich of Spring Garden Township feeds her daughter Mae, 5, a strawberry Monday at Fitz’s Sunnyside Farm in York Township.  The Oestereich
Ann Oestereich of Spring Garden Township feeds her daughter Mae, 5, a strawberry Monday at Fitz's Sunnyside Farm in York Township. The Oestereich family plans to make strawberry shortcake with the berries from their pick-your-own day out. Below, the ripe strawberries are filling visitors' containers at the farm. (Hannah Byrne photo)

The strawberries are late this year, but local growers say they're worth the wait.

A long winter and cool spring delayed the crop, said Dennis Fitz, owner of Fitz's Sunnyside Farm in York Township.

"They're a week late, but they're coming in good right now," he said.

Fitz's Sunnyside Farm started the pick-your-own strawberry season Monday in its fields at 2195 Springwood Road.

"We'll pick for two or three weeks if the weather cooperates," Fitz said.

A little rain is OK, but too much will make the berries soft, he said.

"Right now, they're real good," Fitz said.

Not far behind: Other farms began pick-your-own season Wednesday or will start later this week.

(Bill Kalina — bkalina@yorkdispatch.com)

Brown's Orchards & Farm Market in Loganville and Fitz's Windsor Road Farm Market in Windsor opened Wednesday.

"Even with a cold, late spring, we're really only a couple days behind where we'd normally be," said Stan Brown, owner of the farm at 8892 Susquehanna Trail South.

While the cold winter hurt his apricots and peaches, the strawberries weathered harsh conditions.

"The crop has potential to be very nice," he said.

Brown and other farmers are hoping for continued mild weather to extend the picking season.

"We don't want any 90-degree heat yet," he said.

The later season seems to have inspired anticipation, growers said.


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"People are excited to pick this year. More people are getting into the buy fresh, buy local movement, and that's great for us. And you can taste the difference when you bite into a locally grown strawberry," Brown said.

'So good': At Barefoot Farm in Dover, they're also looking forward to the fresh strawberry sundaes, said co-owner Lora Hartzell.

The farm at 6621 Bluebird Lane will start its pick-your-own season Thursday.

"It's a little delayed because of the colder spring, but I bit into a berry today and it was so good," she said.

The strawberries didn't sustain any hail or frost damage, fostering a plentiful crop.

"They're hanging heavy and full on the plant," Hartzell said.

The farm plants several varieties of strawberries, including late bloomers.

"We typically have berries longer than other farms because of the varieties we plant. We're usually picking into late June. Because everything is later this year, if the weather holds, we expect to still be picking strawberries in early July," she said.