MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you love eating fresh fruit, you’ll love what’s happening at berry farms across Minnesota.

Farmers say they are seeing “outstanding” crops of blueberries and raspberries.

The state Department of Agriculture says favorable weather conditions have helped berry patches open on time with an abundance of fruit.

The second and third weeks of July tend to be when the raspberry and blueberry season starts in central Minnesota.

The Berry Patch in Forest Lake is not only open, it’s busy and full of people eager to pick their own berries, like Jodi Abbott from Somerset.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“They look great,” she said. “Easy picking and very delicious.”

Lots of folks are filling up their buckets, planning to eat some berries now and others much later.

“They’re easy to freeze,” she said. “You just put them on a cookie sheet, one layer, and freeze them, then throw them in a bag. They’ll be good for as long as you need them.”

Laura Taylor is the assistant manager of The Berry Patch.

“This is actually one of the best years we’ve ever had for raspberries,” she said. “There are tons of them out there, lots of different varieties. They’re really big, easy to find. It’s also one of the best years we’ve had for blueberries. Lots of those as well.”

She said it’s not just the quantity of berries that’s exceptional this summer, it’s the quality as well. And she showed how to find the best berries.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“Another good thing to do rather than just walking across and picking from the top of the bush is to look under the leaves,” she said. “That’s where a lot of the good ones are hiding.”

The health benefits of raspberries and blueberries are worth noting as well.

“We were saying in this one patch how many antioxidants there must be,” berry picker Tari Stordahl said.

Growers say you have a few weeks to take advantage of this good fortune.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“You’ve got time,” Taylor said. “Our raspberries will go to the end of July, so a few more weeks and our blueberries should go to early August.”

The agriculture department says that berry farms in Northern Minnesota typically open for picking about one or two weeks after their counterparts here in the metro.

Click here to find your nearest berry grower.

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