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Cooperative weather producing strawberries on schedule

Brad Hicks • Apr 30, 2014 at 9:35 PM

ERWIN — The time of year that strawberry lovers have anxiously been awaiting has arrived.

Harvesting of this season’s local strawberry crop is slated to begin later this week. Steve Scott, owner of Unicoi-based Scott’s Strawberry and Tomato Farms, said picking will begin this Friday at his business’ Greene County farm.

“We won’t be picking a whole lot, but there’s enough in there that if we don’t pick it we’ll lose it,” Scott said.

Scott said the strawberry crop in Greene County is “about 10 days ahead” of the strawberries in Washington County, but he expects harvesting to begin here on Monday or Tuesday, weather permitting.

It may be a little too early to speculate on the abundance of this year’s crop, but Scott said early indications are it could be a fruitful year.

“Well, that’s anybody’s guess,” Scott said of the crop size, “but looking at them right now, everything looks good. They look the way we want them to at this stage.”

It has taken around a year to ready the fruit to be picked later this week in Greene County and next week in Washington County. Scott said the nursery was planted last May, and cuttings were taken in August. After this, the plants were grown in a greenhouse for about five weeks, and the potted plants were taken to the fields in mid-September for planting there.

Scott said harvesting of the strawberries in this area is right on schedule, as it typically begins during the first week of May. Harvesting typically lasts 40 to 45 days, and Scott said picking has continued as late as July 7. Scott said strawberry harvesting on his farms continued to about June 23 last year, but he doesn’t expect the harvesting season to run as long this year.

The weather has also been cooperative, Scott said. He said Scott’s Farms has had to irrigate six or seven nights, which is not atypical. He also said there have been no “real, real cold temperatures” during the berries’ full bloom, which is when they are most susceptible to the cold.

Scott said he hopes to have Scott’s Farms stands in the region up and running by the middle to end of next week. It is at these stands that the freshly-picked strawberries will be available to the public.

“Hopefully by next week we’ll have everything open,” Scott said. “We’re doing a few different this year. Mize (Farm and Garden) in Johnson City closed down; we won’t be there but we’re moving to the Mize in Gray. We’re also going to have a stand in Jonesborough this year at the Ace Hardware, and then we’re working on getting one in Piney Flats. We’re trying to get a few more out there and make it a little easier for people to get them.”

For those not wishing to wait that long, there are options. Estill Ingram, owner of Crossroads Farmers Market, located at the intersection of Tenn. Highways 81 and 107 in Jonesborough, said strawberries from South Carolina are available for purchase at his stand. He also said local growers at surrounding farms have indicated there should be plenty of local strawberries produced this year.

“They say it seems like it’s looking pretty good this year,” Ingram said.

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