SURREY - U-pick strawberries are bigger and better this season thanks to steady, lower temperatures throughout the Lower Mainland.
"The weather has been very conducive for plant growth," said Sharmin Gamiet, association manager of the Fraser Valley Strawberry Growth Association. "The berries themselves are big, they're juicy - they have a lot of water. They're a lot larger than we had anticipated."
Severe heat and cold puts plants under stress, but the mild winter and cool spring allowed the strawberries to mature gradually this season.
"We had that one stretch of hot, dry weather in May," said Gamiet, noting that warmth makes strawberries ripen faster. "It pushed the plants just enough to get them to know the season is coming."
The ideal time to start picking strawberries is mid-June, though the farms are behind by about a week because of the recent rainfall.
Alf Krause of Krause Berry Farms in Langley uses 40 acres for strawberries, eight of which are for U-pick.
"A lot of people go out and pick some because they want a good value for making preserves or freezing a lot of berries," he said.
Strawberries are generally grown in a lighter soil, sometimes in raised beds to avoid going rotten from too much water when it rains.
However, a little more sunshine wouldn't hurt, said Gamiet.
"The sweetness of the strawberries become more intense when you have lots of sun," she said. "The strawberries right now are nice and sweet and everything, but they could be sweeter."