Alexis Shuey, a staff member at Driediger Farms, checks out some of this spring’s crop of strawberries. Picking began on the weekend. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Alexis Shuey, a staff member at Driediger Farms, checks out some of this spring’s crop of strawberries. Picking began on the weekend. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Strawberry season starts in Lower Mainland

The weather has been good for local farms in the Langley area.

Strawberry season has officially begun in Langley, and across much of the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.

“It’s been a perfect spring,” said Rhonda Driediger of Langley’s Driediger Farms.

That’s a bit of a change from the last few years. Every year seemed to be either extremely warm, extremely wet, or unseasonably cold.

But this year, relatively seasonal temperatures have prevailed, and dry May with a fair bit of sunshine has meant there are plenty of red strawberries ripening in the fields.

The picking began at Dridiger Farms on the weekend, with U-pick expected to start within a few days or in the first week of June, Driediger said.

Everything seems to have come together for a good year of berries, said Driediger. The amount and size of blossoms was good, and pollination went well.

“We bring in 200 hives just on our farm,” Driediger said.

That’s because there are more than just strawberries on local farms. Many have, like Driediger Farms, diversified with blueberries, raspberries and other crops. In addition, the farm has dandelions and dogwood trees to provide extra variety of food for the bees.

One issue on the horizon for strawberry farms may be road work.

Langley Township is upgrading many of its rail crossings – and there’s a crossing on 72nd Avenue, between the 232nd Street highway interchange and two of Langley’s largest U-pick berry farms, Driediger’s on 72nd Avenue, and Krause Berry Farms not far away on 248th Street.

A contractor has just been signed to do the work, but the exact schedule has yet to be worked out, said Paul Cordeiro, the Township’s manager of transportation engineering.

“It should be started this summer,” said Cordeiro.

The upgrade could block off access for a time on 72nd Avenue.

If the road is closed, drivers coming in to Langley on Highway One will have to take 232nd Street to Rawlison Crescent, then come back down 240th Street, said Driediger.

“Commuters are not thrilled about it either,” she said.