Strawberry picking now in season

Apples coming to Dew Fresh Produce this fall

By Elizabeth Sias

Summer is just getting started, which means berry-picking season is now underway.

The deep red strawberries at Dew Fresh Produce outside of Grandy are ready to be picked. The strawberry season runs from mid-June to mid-July. Photos by Elizabeth Sias

At Dew Fresh Produce, the Whitneys have been growing mouth-watering strawberries for over a decade. And for the first time this fall, the farm will offer apple picking as well.

Just outside Grandy, the family-run farm has acres of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pumpkins, squash and apples.

Strawberries are in season earliest, with pick-your-own happening now through mid-July.

Their seven varieties of strawberries have different ripening times to extend the season, allowing customers to visit at their convenience and have an abundance of strawberries to pick.

“It’s been a good year with the moisture, and it’s been cool,” Dew Fresh Produce owner David Whitney said.

Their strawberry prices haven’t changed in three years, he added. It’s $1.45 per pound for pick-your-own, or $15 per square flat for pre-picked.

Jake Whitney examines a SweeTango apple tree, one of 500 the Whitneys have at Dew Fresh Produce. A cross between Honeycrisp and Zestar, SweeTango is a new variety of apple only available at licensed orchards.

His 26-year-old son Jake has become more involved in the family business and plans to take over when his father retires. Expanding the farm to grow apples is his own venture.

The farm has 1,100 apple trees, 500 of which are a new variety called SweeTango, which was recently developed by the University of Minnesota.

A cross between Honeycrisp and Zestar, SweeTango is a controlled release variety, which David said means only licensed orchards can get the apple. Each orchard with SweeTango can have up to 1,000 trees with the variety, and there’s a cap of 50,000 trees in the state.

SweeTango won’t be commercially available in nurseries until at least 2028, making it a popular choice at the orchards offering it.

To grow the apple, orchards pay a royalty fee per year, per tree until 2028. So far, 86 orchards have SweeTango in Minnesota, but the state hasn’t reached the 50,000 tree limit.

“Its claim to fame is it’s going to be a high-quality, late summer apple with very unique flavors,” David said. “High quality is hard to find in a late summer apple.”

He thinks Dew Fresh Produce is the only orchard in the area within a 30- or 40-mile radius that will offer SweeTango this season, so the Whitneys have high hopes for the apple.

Other varieties they have are Honeycrisp, SnowSweet and Honeygold. SnowSweet®, Zestar!® and SweeTango® are registered trademarks of the University of Minnesota.

The Whitneys started growing apples four years ago, and this apple season, which runs from about mid-August to mid-October, is the first time they’ll offer their apples to the public.

“It takes a while for them to mature enough to be bearing age,” David said. During those four years, there’s a lot of pruning and nurturing, “and in this type of soil, there’s a risk of drought, so you have to have irrigation,” he explained.

Jake spent some time away from the farm when he drove semi for a couple years, but he wanted to be back home. He said he’s excited to be more involved with the business.

“I pretty much put my heart and soul into it,” Jake said.

He’s hoping to bring new attractions in the coming years, including cidar pressing, a bakery with pies and apple crisp, hay rides and a few animals.

For now, the Whitneys are focusing on the strawberry season and upcoming blueberry, raspberry and apple seasons.

“It’s a family business geared toward people with families,” David said. “We get a lot of families and couples with their kids coming out here to spend an afternoon.”

Dew Fresh Produce is north of Grandy. From 65 North, take a left on Co. Rd. 6, then drive about 2.5 miles to Polk St. Take a right on Polk St., then a left on 375th Ave. It will be the third place on the left.

Strawberry picking runs through about mid-July. Hours are Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 763-689-2282.