We are right in the middle of u-pick season. The weather has been pretty good to our local producers, which means that the public can enjoy fresh, juicy, and abundant produce ripe for the picking. Pun totally intended.
Whether you are new to u-picks, or a regular goer, it’s never too late to follow some guidelines for proper picking.
- Check the weather and come prepared before you go. Wear comfortable close-toed shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and have sunscreen and an umbrella handy.
- Do not bring pets. The US Department of Agriculture does not allow personal pets for sanitary reasons. Some farms allow service animals, but please check the farm’s website or contact them ahead of time to make sure.
- Producers expect that a certain amount of their product will be eaten, but it is not a buffet. If you eat a good amount of fruit, be honest and give a few extra dollars to offset the costs. Case in point: a local Osceola County producer keeps track of eaten strawberries by weighing the dropped stems. He discovered that he has lost around $28,000 in lost product since opening in March.
- Be careful how and where you step when moving from row to row. Walk down the line to go into another row instead of stepping over the plant. The person can lose their balance or footing and step on the plant. Other times, the heel of the shoe can catch on the protective plastic layer and rip it, which affects the plant as well.
- Watch your children to make sure they don’t run around, climb on trees, or disturb plants.
- You may come across fruit that is not ripe yet, so look for fruit that is ready to be picked before picking it. Once it’s picked, it cannot be put back, and will lead to rotting. A producer will be happy to tell you what to look for when picking the right fruit.
For more information, and a list of local u-picks from now through May, please read Don’t Miss Osceola County “you-pick” Season! and visit your local producer’s Facebook page for the most current information.