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Northwest summer berries are coming fast and furious. Sweet, local strawberries already are in our markets and will be peaking over the next week to 10 days. We are working with a new local berry grower this season – Hayton Farms in Mount Vernon – and so far, this looks to be a winning relationship. We have an excellent supply in traditional June-bearing varieties. This particular grower planted several acres of certified organic strawberries in May and we could possibly see a few come this fall. Stay tuned!

Both organic and conventional Northwest-grown blueberries arrive this week. Keep in mind the season is about two full weeks ahead of schedule, which means the peak season for varieties and supply will arrive about the first week of July.  For those of you who are interested in freezing or preserving Northwest blueberries for the winter, you may want to consider doing it earlier in July, as this is not your typical season. We’ll see some limited amounts of organic blueberries and blackberries from this new Skagit Valley grower.

Speaking of blackberries, I got a call from grower Jake Sterino in Puyallup recently and it looks like he may have Obsidian blackberries and tayberries as early as this weekend. The Obsidian variety of blackberry is relatively new as blackberries go – it produces early in the season and generally comes on all at one time. This is a big, very sweet and juicy berry. I think it’s the best blackberry of the season, so don’t wait once they arrive. The tayberry, which just keeps growing in popularity, is basically a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry. It has an intense flavor and very tiny seeds. Tayberries are very tender and must be picked on the firm side. If I had to describe the color I would say it’s a shade of red that is somewhere between a raspberry and a blackberry. These are excellent for preserves, sauces and desserts.

Tayberries are another variety than comes on quickly and will be over before you know it. We get only seven days of peak volume to enjoy this variety, followed by just a few more days where the supply is hit or miss.

Northwest cherries have arrived! The sweet dark-red cherries are of excellent quality, as are the Rainiers. We typically offer larger cherries, picked at their peak to ensure a crisp, sweet eating experience. In the Rainier cherries, look for a yellow background color with a bright red blush. If Rainier cherries do not have a nice red blush it means they have less sugar and won’t eat as well as those that do.  In red cherries, we also look for the largest fruit available, picked at its peak for the best eating experience. In a nut shell , we’re always looking for great-eating cherries – firm and sweet! So far we are off to an excellent season and it looks like the peak will fall right around the Independence Day holiday, So Happy Fourth of July, but I’ll see you before then!

Have a great weekend – Joe

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