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Hail delays raspberry crop - Let the raspberry picking begin

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By Mercy Lopez

Summer’s quickly drawing to a close, which typically means that it’s prime raspberry-picking time at the Salman Ranch. This year, the berries are a little later than usual due to a hailstorm that struck the area in mid-July.

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But don’t worry. Lawrence Espinoza, a ranch worker who oversees the raspberry farm, said he expects to have plenty of the juicy red berries that make scrumptious jelly, topping and syrup.

One of the highlights of picking your own berries is being able to stick a fresh berry straight into your mouth — right off the vine.

“The hail storm caused a lot of damage to the plants, even if it was pea sizes. We got six inches of hail in that storm,” Espinoza said. “But there will still be plenty of raspberries to pick even if they are a little late.”

The ranch, nestled in the La Cueva area, features rows and rows of raspberries on six acres waiting for people to pick them.

This past Labor Day weekend the ranch had plenty of visitors, but due to the delay in having a large amount of berries, the ranch was closed for several days this week to allow the berries to continue to thrive.

Espinoza said this weekend would be a good time to pick the variety of raspberries available. He said the berries located near the bottom of the vines are better, as they have had more time to mature, compared to the ones near the top that are recouping from the hail storm.

The ranch has produced berries since 1982 with various types of raspberries including Carolinas, heritage, polentas, polkas, autumn brittens and autumn bliss.

Picking at the field is a fun family event. Espinoza said some families like to take their children to the farm to educate them on how food is grown.

The ranch provides containers to pick and transport the berries home. The cost for picked raspberries is $6 a pound. The field is open typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

However, the opening all depends on the crop, which is weather dependent. Pickers are encouraged to wear sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent. Visitors also need to be aware that there are bees that are in the field pollinating the berry plants. Only cash and checks are accepted at the field for purchasing raspberries.

The ranch also is home to a café that serves up sandwiches and raspberry ice cream. A well-stocked store is also available at the ranch.

The field is expected to be open this weekend; however, it is always best to call the ranch or visit the website for up-to-date information. The website is www.salmanraspberryranch.com and the ranch telephone number is 866-281-1515.