NORTH East berry picking is in full swing after soaking rains this month buoyed the crops.
Stanley’s High Grove Chestnut and Berry Farm owner Tony Iaria said the quality of berries was sensational this season.
He opened his orchard for pick-your-own berries on December 20, which was slightly later than in other years.
“The quality is magnificent,” he said.
“After we had 200 millimetres of rain 10 days ago, we thought it might have been the end of the season, but the plants are all thriving.”
Mr Iaria said they were picking raspberries, blueberries, boysenberries, cherries, loganberries and red and black currants with just thornless blackberries yet to ripen.
He said as many as 700 berry pickers had visited High Grove on Christmas Eve.
“People wanted fresh berries for Christmas,” Mr Iaria said.
“But to get 600 to 700 on Christmas Eve on Monday was amazing.
“We had lots of tourists but also lots of loyal customers from Albury-Wodonga and Wangaratta.”
Mr Iaria advised berry pickers to try to get in early as the summer weather warmed up.
“First thing in the morning is best for picking,” he said.
“If you can be here by 8.15am, you can be done and out of the heat by 10am.”
Wooragee property Beechworth Berries owner Bob Dunnett said the berry season was in full swing this week.
“We’ve been flat-chat since 4.30 this morning,” he said.
Mr Dunnett said tourists and North East residents in similar numbers had been picking their own strawberries since October.
“We’re picking strawberries and raspberries and we’ll start on blackberries tomorrow,” Mr Dunnett said.
Beechworth Berries’ strawberry season runs almost year-round with pick-your-own winding up in May.
High Grove Chestnut and Berry Farm pick-your-own berries season ends in late January.