Best berry season ever
Picking time at King Berry
By Angie Landsverk
A mild winter followed by what Steve Scheller describes as the perfect growing season means his raspberry bushes are loaded with berries this summer.
“This is the best season for raspberries I’ve ever had,” said Scheller, who owns King Berry Farm & Greenhouse at E2076 King Road.
He has been in business for 33 years and said going into the year, he did not know what to expect.
That is because he cut out about one-half of his raspberry patch and replanted it.
Scheller said that cutting needs to be done as the berries get older. He also wanted to be proactive.
“So, I wasn’t sure what I would have for a crop,” he said. “This spring, I planted another 950 plants.”
While those plants get some berries during their first season, next year will be the first season of picking berries from them, he explained.
This year’s weather lined up perfectly for his crop of raspberries.
“The main reason for the best berry season ever was a mild winter,” Scheller said. “The berries I had, had a good year last year and then this year was the perfect growing season.”
The rain and lack of disease and bugs resulted in his plants being full of raspberries this year.
Scheller said the heat forecast for later this week will be hard on the berries. It will cook them on the vines.
He grows four varieties of raspberries, and the first variety to ripen is Prelude.
Prelude is followed by Nova, Encore and then the purple variety called Royalty.
Scheller said they stopped picking Prelude about a week ago.
“We had so many of the Novas, we couldn’t keep up anymore,” he said. “We usually pick every other day. We have so many berries, we’re picking every fourth day. Because there’s so much, we can’t keep up and sell them all.”
Scheller said they are now picking all four varieties.
“We have some rows in the patch we will never get to pick because there are so many berries. I hate to see that,” he said.
They tried to get a wine company here, but he said that did not work out.
Berries from King Berry are found at farm markets throughout the area and beyond.
“Turner’s has been helpful this year. They’ve been sending them up north with their wholesaler. This (Monday) morning, they sent 72 pints up north. On Friday, they sent 108 pints.”
Scheller also sells 30 pints of raspberries to the Wautoma Farm Market every other day.
Gorman’s Farm Market on Waupaca’s city square takes 30 pints every day, and Belts’ Soft Serve in Stevens Point averages 60 pints per day, he said.
In addition, some area restaurants buy raspberries from Scheller.
“Today, we will take some to King’s Table,” he said. “They are on the salads at Waupaca Woods Restaurant.”
This week, Holman Farms will also begin selling King Berry raspberries, taking them to Shawano.
“You never know where you’re going to find King Berry Farm berries,” Scheller said.
He said the best way for people to get them is to pick themselves.
“It doesn’t take long. The patch is loaded for the next week and a half,” Scheller said.
People are allowed in the raspberry patch to pick their own between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Scheller said people may call King Berry at 715-258-6055 for more information.
King Berry Farm & Greenhouse is open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
“I’ve had one person who’s been out four times already. She keeps coming back because she wants to pick for herself and her friends,” Scheller said.
He said raspberries are $2.45 per pound.
His goal is to not see any of his berries go to waste.
“It’s worth the trip,” Scheller said. “If you don’t want to pick, we’ll have plenty of berries on the counter.”