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Baby in an orchard next to a green plastic bucket with rope handle partially filled with blueberries.
Summer is here and it's berry season. Mmm: fresh blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries are at hand! We went you-pick blueberry picking last June and had the best time, although it was incredibly hot. Are you planning to pick berries this summer? The best source for berry-picking tips is the website Pick Your Own. Here are a handful of their top tips:

1. It's summer: bring lots of drinks, plus snacks, hats, sunscreen and bug repellent.

2. Bend down and look up through the middle of the plant. You will find tons of berries other pickers have missed.

3. Blueberries: pluck lightly on berries where they are joined to the stem. Use your thumb to gently roll individual berries into your palm. If they don't pop off easily, they're not yet ripe enough. A red-pinkish ring around the fruit where it meets the stem is another sign they're not quite ready.

4. Blackberries: pick in the AM, not the PM. That's because blackberries are very fragile. In the mornings, they are firmer and less prone to damage from clumsy handling or spoiling from the heat. Blackberries are ripe when they drop off the plant at the lightest touch.

5. Raspberries: when ripe, raspberries also pop off the plant very easily. Be super-gentle with them, using your thumb and fingers together to pluck each berry. Place, don't toss, them into your container.

6. Don't overfill your containers or try to pack your berries down, lest you damage the fruity bounty within.

7. Don't wash berries until you're ready to use them.

For more berry-related advice, check out this post on hulling strawberries. Growing your own berries this year? Here are some tips on how to keep birds off your ripening fruit.

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