is Strawberry Time
Auburn, April 19---Chilton
County farmer Tim Minor spent last week walking through his
strawberry patches, examining berries and checking for new growth as
the sun put the finishing touches on his crop.
which he owns, includes a U-Pick strawberry patch that opened
strawberries in Chilton County should be ready to be picked in the
next two weeks, says Chilton County Extension agent Gary Gray, so
U-Pick farms should begin opening for business soon.
Strawberry season is
already well underway in south Alabama and will start soon in north
Alabama. Baldwin County grower Claude Bailey, owner of BJ Farms in
Elberta, opened his U-Pick strawberry patch March 1. He says the
weather was just right this season for nice, juicy berries, and he
has enjoyed a steady stream of pickers.
Extension agent Lloyd Chapman says growers in north Alabama need
about a week or 10 days before their berries will be ready.
In most of the state,
strawberry season runs through April and May.
Gray says many people
look forward to picking their own berries each spring.
"They are usually
about $6 or $7 a gallon, which is a couple of dollars cheaper than
you can get them in the store," says Gray. "People pick
them for a variety of reasons. A lot of people want to put them up,
preserve them, make jam or freeze them. They might be ‘picky’;
they want the perfect berries."
Gray says most farmers
don’t mind if you munch on a few berries while you are picking.
The strawberries are usually clean, thanks to "plasticulture,"
a process of planting the berries above the ground on plastic.
"The berries are
actually very clean," he says. "They’re on the plastic,
so they don’t get dirt or manure or other things on them."
Jettie Durbin, of
Sunshine Farms, says the fruit looks good so far.
"We just need a few
more days of bright sun," she says. "We’ve had so much
rain lately. But we’re supposed to get some sunny weather. If we
get the sun, we’ll have the berries."
Contact your county
Extension agent for information on U-Pick farms in your area. Gray
says his office has a directory of U-Pick farms in Chilton County he
will fax or mail to those who request it.
SOURCE: Gary Gray,
Extension Agent, Chilton County, (205) 755-3240 and Lloyd Chapman,
Extension Agent, Limestone County, (256) 232-5510, Alabama
Cooperative Extension System.