(DeLoach Farms/Facebook)

In our household, we love to celebrate Alabama’s strawberry season. I taught my children early in life that one of life’s great joys is eating a fully ripened strawberry that’s been freshly picked nearby.

Supermarket strawberries, with their flavorless ghost-white ends and cores, cannot compete. And the longer strawberries must travel from farm to store, the less likely it is they’ll ever properly ripen.

Alabama strawberry season is all but upon us, the beginning of several glorious months of ripe local fruit. Blueberries and blackberries are next, followed by peaches, melons, and finally fall apples and pears (and many others throughout).

The best way to guarantee a perfect strawberry at the best price is to harvest it yourself at one of the U-pick farms across Alabama. The name is self-explanatory: You pick them yourself, paying roughly $10-$12 for a gallon container that holds about five pounds of strawberries. Pre-picked berries generally are offered for sale as well at the farm itself or a nearby farmers market.

Although freezing weather in March delayed the start of this year’s season, strawberries are slowly emerging in southern part of Alabama. By mid-June, pickers will gather the last strawberries on north Alabama farms.

SoulGrown follows the season with this list of U-picks, starting in down in Dothan and ending upstate in Cullman. To ensure the farm is open and ready for pickers, be sure to monitor its social media or give it a call before going.

Aplin Farms (Geneva County)

Four generations have farmed this land southwest of Dothan, producing more than 200 varieties of fruit and vegetables. Aplin started selling early strawberries at the farm on March 26, and will begin U-pick soon. The farm store is open weekdays.

Address: 2729 N County Road 49, Dothan, AL 36305

Phone: 334-726-5104

(Sugar Hill U-Pick Farms/Facebook)

Lone Oak Farm (Tallapoosa County)

“We’re getting close,” the farm’s Facebook page says, adding the acronym IYKYK (If you know, you know). Over the month of March, the strawberries matured from yellow orbs emerging from flower petals to plump red fruits. The farm also raises beef, sold in bundles of eighth-, quarter-, or half-steer portions.

Address: 428 Alabama 120, Notasulga 36866

Phone: 334-301-6134

Sugar Hill U-Pick Farms (Chilton County)

Some of Sugar Hill’s strawberries are starting to trickle out to farmers markets. When the overall crop from its 200,000 plants is ready, the berries can be picked Monday through Saturday.

Address: 3358 County Road 59, Verbena 36091

Phone: 205-389-3080

Backyard Orchards (Russell County)

Look for ripe strawberries by early April from the orchard and farm that also grows peaches, blueberries, vegetables, and fall pumpkins. Open Friday through Sunday.

Address: 6585 U.S. 431 North, Pittsview, 36871

Phone: 334-695-5875

Jimmy Durbin Farms/Sunshine Farms (Chilton County)

In operation since 1990, Sunshine Farms U-pick strawberry field boasts 135,000 plants, which will ripen between April and early June. Jimmy Durbin’s family started growing peaches in 1950; now his granddaughter and son in law run the operations of both J. Durbin and Sunshine farms. 

Address: 11728 County Road 37 Clanton 35045

Phone: 205-280-0242

(Jerry Marsh Farms/Facebook)

DeLoach Farms (Shelby County) 

The same family has farmed this land near Vincent since 1820—yes, for more than 200 years. Today, Jess DeLoach’s markets include subscription boxes available for delivery in Shelby County and parts of Jefferson and St. Clair counties. When it opens, the U-pick will be accessible seven days a week (hours vary) on new fields off U.S. 231 with “new varieties and more than twice as many plants,” the farm’s website says.

Address: 4835 U.S. 231, Vincent, 35178

Phone: 205-249-1297

Jerry Marsh Farms (Blount County)

April 12 was when last year’s U-pick started, and it ended in mid-June. Open Monday through Saturday, the farm only accepts cash or checks, no plastic. The rest of the year you can find tomatoes, melons, onions, lettuce, beans, peppers and more. The turnoff to the farm is about two miles down County Road 13 from its intersection with State Route 79.

Address: 234 Marsh Cutoff Road, Cleveland, 35049

Phone: 205-681-8514

Grandview Mountain Strawberry Farm (Cullman County) 

This farm outside Cullman picked its first gallon bucket of strawberries on March 22, but if last year is any guide, its U-pick operation won’t crank up until in mid-April (with a break for Cullman’s Strawberry Festival, set this year for May 7). Its season generally ends around mid-June. Brett Haynes also grows sweet potatoes, melons (including cantaloupes), peaches, greens, gourds, and pumpkins over the course of a year. 

Address: 1394 County Road 803, Cullman, 35055

Phone: 256-531-5291

Burks Farms (Cullman County)

Its Facebook page shows strawberries growing as late as December last year, and the U-pick at Will Burks’ farm starting in mid-April in 2021. Its shop is open Mondays through Saturdays, also selling vegetables, melons, peaches, berries, and tomatoes. Picked strawberries may be purchased at the farm or farmers markets in Cullman and Decatur.

Address: 5000 Alabama 69 N, Cullman, 35058

Phone: 256-385-2812