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Strawberry picking season arrives a little late

  • Strawberries from Kurtyka's Berry Farm in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Strawberries from Kurtyka's Berry Farm in Greenfield. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Stacy Darling and Ken Kurtyka of Kurtyka's Berry Farm on Plain Road in Greenfield have pick your own or already picked strawberries.  Recorder/Paul Franz

    Stacy Darling and Ken Kurtyka of Kurtyka's Berry Farm on Plain Road in Greenfield have pick your own or already picked strawberries. Recorder/Paul Franz Purchase photo reprints »

  • Strawberries from Kurtyka's Berry Farm in Greenfield.  Recorder/Paul Franz
  • Stacy Darling and Ken Kurtyka of Kurtyka's Berry Farm on Plain Road in Greenfield have pick your own or already picked strawberries.  Recorder/Paul Franz

GREENFIELD — It’s a green light for picking red, ripe strawberries.

And while the season is a week to 10 days late, growers like Ken Kurtyka Jr. say they are delighted that they’re finally available to pick.

This is the first season for Kurtyka’s Berry Farm at 305 Plain Road — just down the road from Hatch’s Patch, which was a popular berry-picking spot in the 1980s and ’90s — and things are going well enough that Kurtyka, who got his start working for Hatch at an 1970s vegetable venture next door, is already looking ahead to expanding the patch.

“This is my first foray into this,” he said. “There isn’t anything in this area as far as strawberries bring grown since Ev (Hatch) has been gone. I have the land here, so I thought I’d put it to use.”

Kurtyka, who works from home as a consultant for pharmaceutical company McKesson, said the season has been slow enough in coming that he thought his crop would be done by now, but he opened for picking a week ago and expects to be open about another week with a half-acre of Early Glow berries, an early variety that’s medium-size and freezes well.

Sale of the berries, to pickers as well as people who come for already picked fruit, has attracted people from the neighborhood and surrounding towns, many of whom follow the Facebook page for Kurtyka’s Berry Farm or have heard by word of mouth, he said.

“I’ve had a great response so far,” Kurtyka added, so he’s thinking of adding maybe another acre next spring, to be ready in 2016. And there will probably be more varieties, as a way of extending the season.

Eric Vinton of Turners Falls, who picked three quarts Thursday morning after having picked some earlier, said, “I’ll have strawberry shortcake or something like that, then when they’re gone, I come back for more. I give them to my friends.”

Other area strawberry growers report also opening their pick-your-own operations this past weekend to catch the rush of Father’s Day customers hungry for berries and the family pastime of picking fresh strawberries.

You can reach Richie Davis at: rdavis@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 269

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