Strawberry crop starts catching up

Community Featured

DURHAM — Strawberry picking has hit prime time, despite a backward spring.

U-pick operators are reporting good fruit and ample business.

Margaret Bell MacLean at MacLean’s U-Pick in Durham said there have been better conditions than this year for growing strawberries. The MacLean operation opened on July 9.

“Some berries are a bit small, but they’re generally a good size,” she said.

MacLean said the cold spring delayed pollination, but there has been plenty of business since the operation opened. There should be picking for the rest of the month but the crop yield will decline over that time.

“If it’s cold the berries don’t pollinate as well,” she said.

Margaret Minney, who operates U-pick fields near River John, said she hopes there will be another couple of weeks of good picking after opening on July 12.

“It’s been a difficult start,” she said. “We have about 20 people picking and they have a lot of flats.”

She said the earliest of the three varieties of berries at the farm was most affected by the cold, wet spring weather, frost and freezing overnight conditions. The heat wave that followed meant all the varieties caught up at once.

“Cold, wet weather to very hot weather is hard on the berries, just like us,” she said. “Every year is a variable. No two seasons are the same.”

She said she hopes there will be enough rain to go with the heat to increase the berry size.

Meanwhile, Alan Jankov on Caribou Island, who has some strawberry plants and more raspberry canes, said there was no frost there because they live so close to open water.

He said he’s optimistic that he will have a good raspberry season.

Clareize Welsh bites into a strawberry from the flat she helped pick at the MacLean patch in Durham. (Goodwin photo)