BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — It's been an unusual year in many ways, but there's a sign that not everything's changed. It's berry pickin' time in Bellevue.
The Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch is open for business. It's a bit of a late start for the ranch, but they say the strawberries are ready to be picked and eaten.
Before they were even officially open, people were lined up to be the first out in the fields to pick strawberries.
April, May and June are when most strawberries are ready to be picked.
"The strawberries are late, the blackberries are flowering now. They will be ready in the next few weeks and our raspberries are going to be early," said Ed Schaefer with the ranch. "It has been a weird season with a frost just a few weeks ago and then this 90 degree heat for seven to eight days."
The berry season only lasts a few weeks, and at the Bellevue Berry Ranch they say they don't use any chemicals.
"The berries are going to be a bit smaller, but they are super sweet," said Schaefer. "They don't taste anything like what you will find in a grocery store."
"We tried to get as many as we could, because we are going to make jam out of them," said berry picker Wendy Buchholz. "We like to get ripe ones, and we got small ones because they are great for jam as I don't have to cut them up as much."
Roughly a million and a half tons of strawberries are produced in the U.S. each year, and when you are picking berries, there is an art to it.
"Just look it over, make sure it is ripe all the way through," explained Schaefer. "You want to cradle it and just pinch the stem and then just slightly pull it."
"We pick up the leaves and look underneath," said Buchholz. "A lot of people miss the good berries hiding underneath."
Depending on the flowerings, the berries are available for picking every day or every other day.
So right now strawberries are in season, then blackberries and last but not least will be the raspberries.
Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch
LOCATION: 11001 South 48th Street
Papillion, NE 68133
HOURS: Monday-Thursday 9a.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m
Saturday & Sunday10 a.m. - 6 p.m.