Local strawberry crop looks promising

Brad Hicks • Apr 22, 2013 at 10:38 AM

According to reports across the state, Tennessee strawberry growers are anticipating a strong crop this year thanks to cooperative weather.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Pamela Bartholomew, a marketing specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, told the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal that the state’s cool, wet spring has prolonged the strawberry-growing process. The report also said the cold has thinned out some berries, leaving the remaining berries to receive more nourishment.

Like other growers, Loretta Thompson, co-owner of the Jonesborough-based Larry Thompson Farm, said she foresees a rebound of sorts from last year’s weak crop. Atypical temperatures in the winter and spring hurt crops last year, but Thompson said plants are already showing the signs of a good crop this year.

“Most plants are full of blooms and green berries of various sizes,” she said.

So far, winter and spring temperatures have been fairly mild, which Thompson said has helped the crop. She said the start date for strawberry picking has been sporadic over the past decade, but she expects picking to begin within the first couple of weeks of May, which is more typical.

While he said it’s hard to say at this point whether this year’s crop will be more abundant that last year’s, Steve Scott, owner of Unicoi-based Scott’s Strawberry and Tomato Farms, also said the strawberry crop looks good at this time.

“They look like what we want them to look like at this stage,” Scott said.

Both Thompson and Scott said their farms have irrigation systems in place to combat frost. They also said the plastic covers placed over their strawberries in the winter were just recently removed. Scott said leaving these covers over the plants longer than some other growers may have helped his crop.

“The crop does look good,” he said. “We’ve got a good bud on the crop.”

By this time last year, Scott said strawberry picking had already began on his crop. Like Thompson, he is expecting to begin picking in early May.

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