Local strawberries ripe for the picking

Despite bouts of unseasonably warm temperatures followed by incidents of late season frost and cool temperatures, the pollination for strawberries has been favorable and has resulted in a good fruit set. Additionally, despite swings in temperatures and below normal rainfall, strawberries are right on schedule.Several growers have indicated numerous blooms due to favorable growing conditions during the fall and early spring. Recent rain and a return to more seasonable weather conditions may promote a more normal harvest season for both farmers and pick-your-own aficionados. However, some growers are reporting that the berries are filling out slower than usual so they may be smaller than average, especially during the second and third crop picks. Fields are often harvested at least three times before a grower will stop harvesting from a field.Several Monroe County farmers anticipate their first pick of early strawberry varieties by the end of this week. Hence strawberries will begin appearing soon at some farm markets. Many more growers anticipate starting to pick during the week of June 16 with several pick-your-own operations opening as well. If current weather conditions prevail, this week will provide favorable conditions for berries to ripen and be picked.Recent spring rain along with supplemental irrigation is encouraging full fruit fill. As daily temperatures rise, there will be advancement and steadier ripening of strawberries for most growing areas. However, some varieties, especially older ones, are likely to mature together rather than stagger in maturity due to recent extremes in weather conditions. Early strawberries are ranging from $3.25 to $4.75 per quart; for pick-your-own berries, prices likely will range from $1.75 to $2 per pound. Overall, prices are expected to be somewhat higher than last year due to increased production costs.For this growing season, some Kingberries of mid- and late season varieties were adversely impacted by late frosts and critical cold temperatures during the bloom period. The most sought-after berry on the plant, the Kingberry is the primary or first berry of the plant. It is usually the biggest and most succulent berry and is highly prized by strawberry enthusiasts.Monroe County strawberry statistics: * 31 farms * 146 acres of strawberries * One half million (561,646) pounds of strawberries * Number one in New York State in acreage and pounds * Farm revenue estimated at $1.1 million * Season duration about five weeks; however, this season is expected to run about four weeks

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