First-of-the-season berries hit farm stands in Pierce County. You can find them here

Strawberry season has begun in the South Sound, a few days ahead of the typical June debut.

Spooner Farms in Puyallup, one of the region’s oldest berry producers, sold the first of its harvest on Tuesday. The farm store at 9710 Route 162 E. (at 96th Street East) — remodeled for the 2023 season — should have the red gems daily starting at 9 a.m. Availability is somewhat limited, and U-pick won’t start until mid-June.

Nearby Sidhu Farms started selling initial fruits over Memorial Day weekend. Look for them at area farmers markets, including in Tacoma (Thursdays on Broadway, Fridays in the Eastside and Sundays at Dune Peninsula), as well as Saturdays in Proctor and Puyallup.

The Puyallup Valley has been known for berry production since the late 19th century, after prolific hop farms were decimated by disease.

Strawberry fiends can find pints ($4) and half-flats ($20) at Red Barn Market and Nursery in South Hill, 14407 94th Ave. E. Renovated following a burglary in late 2021, this family-run shop also stocks California-grown strawberries ($20 per flat).

The short harvest window usually runs from late May through June, occasionally dipping into the first week or two of July. Last year, due to an unusually cold and wet spring, berry season was late in the fertile Puyallup Valley and at farms around Olympia, not really kicking off until mid-June.

With the bearings looking juicier this summer, producers expect raspberries and blackberries to hit from mid-June to July. For a brief spell after the Fourth of July, indulge in a crop of boysenberries, and look for blueberries to run from around then through September.

In Olympia, Spooner Berry Farms — whose owners worked in Puyallup prior to opening their Thurston County Farm more than 30 years ago — will have strawberries in June, followed by raspberries and marionberries in July and blueberries in August.

Interested in picking your own strawberries? U-pick kicks off in late June at farms such as Picha Farms in Puyallup, 6502 52nd St. E., where you’ll find several varieties — Puget Crimson, Shuksan, Totem and Mary’s Peak among them.

Buck Collier, a field manager with Sidhu Farms, picks tayberries in June 2020.
Buck Collier, a field manager with Sidhu Farms, picks tayberries in June 2020.

For a full list of local berry farms offering fresh-picked fruit and U-pick days, the Washington Food and Farm Finder tool built by Eat Local First, a local agriculture cooperative, offers an interactive map.

Pierce County also has an online list, including Charlotte’s Blueberry Park in Tacoma’s South End, Wild Hare Organic Farm on River Road and Linbo Blueberry Farm in Puyallup.

Farmers markets also kick off this month in Gig Harbor and Lakewood.