Winter strawberry season kicks off in Redlands

FRESH: The winter strawberry season has kicked off and berries are now ripe for the picking.
FRESH: The winter strawberry season has kicked off and berries are now ripe for the picking.

THE winter strawberry season has kicked off and farms across the south-east are opening for people to enjoy fresh berries.

While strawberry season officially began in May, many farms will open to visitors for the first time in the season between early and mid-June when crops are set to be plentiful.

The fruit is an annual favourite among Redlands residents, with the area once being known for its strawberry farms.

Even though the Wellington Point Farm store has been closed this year, residents can get their hands on local berries from Randall's Farm Fresh Fruit and Veggies on Birkdale Road.

Wellington Point Farm manager Adrian Lynch said the best and most plentiful stores of local fruits could be found in July and August.

"There's still a long way to go yet (in the season and) we're hoping for a mild winter with sunny days," he said.

"Winter berries are always the best. They're slower to ripen (and) the longer they spend on the plant...the sweeter they are."

BERRY GOOD: A past year's crop of strawberries at Wellington Point Farm. Photo: Stephen Archer.

BERRY GOOD: A past year's crop of strawberries at Wellington Point Farm. Photo: Stephen Archer.

For a taste of the Redlands' berry history, locals can visit Tranquility Park at Thornlands to catch a glimpse of the Strawberry Queen's throne.

In September, the annual RedFest Strawberry Festival will celebrate the humble fruit with a strawberry eating competition.

Residents willing to travel further afield can visit the Sunshine Coast - where the majority of Queensland's strawberries are grown - and pick their own berries at farms in Elimbah, Bli Bli and Palmview.

To the south-west, a Chamber's Flat strawberry farm will open for berry-picking in August.

Elimbah strawberry farmer and president of the Queensland Strawberry Growers' Association Luigi Coco said the season had gotten off to a difficult start with strawberry plants being affected by drought, but he was optimistic grower's efforts this season would bear fruit.

"The current warm sunny days are helping the young plants to get established and start to produce their wonderful balls of winter sunshine," he said.

The $130 million industry will be looking to recover from a multi-million dollar hit it took last year, after a spate of strawberry sabotage events which saw people putting needles inside the fruit.

Agricultural Industry Development Minister Mark Furner said Queensland's locally grown strawberries were renowned for their size, colour and juicy flavour.

"Queensland strawberry growers produce up to 30,000 tonnes or up to 60 million punnets of fruit per season, which is about 40 percent of Australia's annual strawberry production," Mr Furner said.