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Colly Nelson of Lengby taste tests the strawberries Friday morning while picking at Ter Lee Gardens south of Bagley as brother-in-law Ray Nelson keeps on picking. The strawberry patches are in full swing throughout the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pionee

Strawberry picking season is underway in the Bemidji area

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News Bemidji,Minnesota 56619 http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/2/0712/071214.n.bp.strawberrypickin.jpg?itok=ymHc0nPA
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Strawberry picking season is underway in the Bemidji area
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BAGLEY -- Strawberry picking season is here. Whether you plan on jarring jam, making juicy pies, piling them high on Belgian waffles, or popping them in your mouth freshly picked, there really is no bad way to eat a strawberry.

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Although this summer's weather hasn't necessarily been perfect for growing strawberries, Terry and Loralee Nennich's patches at Ter-Lee Gardens in Bagley are growing in thick regardless.

"We've been in this berry business for 25 or 30 years, and our average start date is July 4th. But we've started as early as the 22nd of June or as late as the 15th of July," Terry said. "This year, we had our opening day on July 3rd, so this is actually an average year."

The strawberry-picking season is short no matter what the weather, according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the average season runs anywhere from two to four weeks.

Terry and Loralee said their patches will be open for picking for another few weeks.

"The berry season is going good," Terry said. "The berries have really been able to fight the wet. I don't know how they came out so early. I wasn't expecting berries until the 10th of July."

Ter-Lee Gardens grows several varieties of strawberries to time the season. Some varieties grow earlier in the summer and others come later, which helps lengthen the season, allowing more time for people to pick.

It doesn't take long for a person to fill their buck at Ter-Lee. Pickers on this Friday had no trouble filling their quotas as they moved from row to row.

On this day, an experienced picker, with four big pails filled, chimed in on how he likes to freeze the berries to last all year. "The great thing about having these berries," he said, "is when it's January 20 and below zero, and you can still have strawberry shortcake."

Although the strawberry season will be winding down in a couple of weeks, raspberry season is around the corner, starting just in time as the strawberry bushes start to go bare. Ter-Lee Gardens also offers pick-your-own raspberries, so the fields should be busy with berrypickers for the rest of the month.

"We love it when people come out here," Terry said. "We just invite folks to pick to their hearts content. It's a fun place."

Ter-Lee Gardens is located at 20027 320th St. in rural Bagley. During the season, they are generally open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays, weather permitting. For more information, visit www.terleegardens.com or call (218) 694-2934.

Serratore is entering her senior year at Bemidji High School and is interning at the Pioneer through the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Pohlad Summer Internship Program.

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