U-pick strawberry farms on Long Island

Pick your own berries at Patty's Berries &

Pick your own berries at Patty's Berries & Bunches

Plan a family outing to pick your own berries in the summer at Patty's Berries & Bunches in Mattituck: strawberries in June; blueberries, July-August; raspberries, July-September; and blackberries, August. Open daily June-October, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. (631-298-4679; pattysberriesandbunches.com)

Strawberry picking on Long Island. (Credit: Shawna VanNess)

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Like emerging jewels, juicy, red strawberries are peeping from under leaves across Long Island. With an earlier start than usual, U-pick farms are already throwing open their gates to welcome those hungry for the ultimate sweet bite of spring.

"Last year was late, and this year is early," says Eve Kaplan-Walbrecht, who co-owns Riverhead's Garden of Eve Organic Farm and Market, which started picking in late May. "We expect one of the best seasons in years."

Kaplan-Walbrecht suggests that those picking should bear in mind more than just the day's weather. "The taste of your strawberries will be at their best when it hasn't rained for a few days before you pick them," she says.

Jennifer DiVello, whose mother owns Patty's Berries and Bunches in Riverhead, has another suggestion: "Berries don't ripen off the vine -- they're not like tomatoes," she says. "So pick berries that are red, ripe."

BEFORE YOU GO

Call before you head out to make sure patches aren't picked out. While most farms charge by the container ($4 to $6 a quart), some may charge by the pound, with a quart weighing a little more than 1 1/2 pounds. A few charge a per-person fee to enter the fields.

WHERE TO GO

Anderson Farms

1890 Roanoke Ave., Riverhead

INFO 631-727-2559

HOURS 9 a.m.-6 p.m. (closed Tuesdays)

PRICE $4 a quart; $15 for 4 quarts; 15-cent fee for 1-quart container, $1 for 4-quart container

Condzella's Farm

Route 25A, Wading River

INFO 631-929-5058, condzellasfarm.com

HOURS 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

PRICE $2.75 a pound; 75 cents to $1 per container, but you can bring your own

Fritz Lewin Farms

Edwards Avenue, Calverton

INFO 631-727-3346

HOURS 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

PRICE $4 a quart

Garden of Eve

4558 Sound Ave., Riverhead

INFO 631-722-8777, gardenofevefarm.com

HOURS 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

PRICE $4 a pint

Glover Farms

633 Victory Ave., Brookhaven

INFO 631-286-7876 )

HOURS 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily (opens at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday)

PRICE $3.50 a quart; $1 container fee

Golden Earthworm Organic Farm

652 Peconic Bay Blvd., Jamesport

INFO 631-722-3302, goldenearthworm.com

HOURS 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday

PRICE $4.50 a quart

Hank's Farm Stand

324 County Rd. 39, Southampton

INFO 631-726-4667, hankspumpkintown.com

HOURS 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

PRICE $5 a quart

Hodun Farms

4070 Rte. 25, Calverton

INFO 631-369-3533

HOURS 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily

PRICE $3.50 a quart (four quarts for $12); 10 cents per box

May's Farm Stand

6361 Rte. 25A, Wading River

INFO 631-929-6654, maysfarmny.com

HOURS 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily

PRICE $2.50 a pound

Patty's Berries and Bunches

48 Sound Shore Rd., Mattituck

INFO 631-298-4679, pattysberriesandbunches.com

HOURS 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily

PRICE $5 a person (includes one quart of berries)

Rottkamp's Fox Hollow Farm

2287 Sound Ave., Calverton

INFO 631-727-1786

HOURS 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday

PRICE $3 a quart with a four-quart minimum; 25 cents per 1-quart basket or $1 for a 4-quart basket.

Wickham's Fruit Farm

28700 Main Rd. (Route 25), Cutchogue

INFO 631-734-6441, wickhamsfruitfarm.com

HOURS 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday (closed Sunday)

PRICE $6 a quart; must have a U-pick family membership ($20 a year)

Windy Acres Farm

3810 Middle Country Rd. (Route 25), Calverton

INFO 631-727-4554, therestaurantsweb.com/windyacresfarm.html

HOURS 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily

PRICE $1 to enter field; $3 a quart ($11 for 4 quarts)

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