UNICOI — Friday marked the first day of strawberry harvesting at Unicoi-based Scott’s Strawberry and
Tomato Farms, and owner Steve Scott said early indications point to a bountiful crop this season.
“We’ll have more than we can probably get rid of here in about a week or so,” Scott said Friday afternoon. Picking typically starts around the first of May, Scott said. Last year, harvesting at Scott’s Farms began April 19. Scott said the later start this year is due to cooler weather.
“So we’re running late this year, but we’ve got a goodlooking crop,” he said. “We just needed some sunshine to get them ripe, and they’re starting to come on. We started today, and today’s been a good day.”
Scott said the berries began blooming earlier this spring, and Scott’s Farms has irrigated several times to combat frost. Still, he said cooler temperatures and rainfall have not adversely affected the crop.
“Everything’s growing the way it should be,” he said. “Like I said, it’s just a little bit slower, but with this sun, they’ll come on now.”
Scott’s Farms also began selling strawberries out of its stands located across the region Friday, and began delivering strawberries to area Food City locations, including stores in Johnson City, Jonesborough, Gray, Kingsport, Church Hill, Bristol, Elizabethton, Greeneville, Rogersville, Blountville and Piney Flats.
“We pride ourselves in selecting the best possible products for our customers and we feel that Scott’s Farms shares in that goal,” Food City President and CEO Steve Smith said in a release.
Scott said harvesting normally lasts 40 to 45 days. And while some sun is desirable, too much can be detrimental. Hot temperatures can cause vegetative growth in strawberry plants and slow the berries’ ripening. Scott said hot temperatures can also lead to a reduced harvesting season.
“If it stays in the 70s, mid-70s to around 80, that’s perfect,” Scott said. “If it gets a lot warmer than that, it’ll shorten the season some.”