Strawberry picking season: Local growers work year-round for one tasty month
With summer quickly approaching, the time to pick strawberries has arrived. Local strawberry patches are open for business with strawberries waiting to go home and be made into shortcakes, jams and much more.
According to local strawberry growers, the season for picking strawberries is very small, usually starting in late April and ending in late May or early June. Strawberry plants are very dependent on weather. If the temperatures are warm but not too hot (above 85 degrees), the plants can start producing early in April. But if there’s too much rain or temperatures are too hot or cold (below 70 degrees), the season may start later or end earlier.
Cabbage Farm and Greenhouse located at 1020 Regional Airport Road in Brodnax has been supplying the local area with strawberries since 1992 when Mary Anna Boze and her husband, Sherwood Boze Sr., planted their first strawberry crop. Mary Anna said that even though the strawberries are only sold for about a month-long period in late spring, the process of growing them takes almost a year.
Cabbage Farm starts planting strawberry tips in potting soil in August to get the plants to root. Meanwhile, they place black plastic on the 4 acres of rows on the farm designated for strawberries. Mary Anna said once the plastic is down, they have to wait about three weeks before they add the plants in the row. She said it is usually around September when they get the strawberry plants in the ground.
Like most of the local strawberry growers, Mary Anna said the weather affects the strawberries tremendously. She said the strawberry plants were blooming in February this year, which is not good because she said the winter weather came in March.
Despite the loss of a few plants due to frost, Cabbage Farm’s strawberry plants are ready for picking. The farm is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and strawberries can either be picked or sold already picked. For more information on Cabbage Farm and Greenhouse, call (434) 729-2111 or visit their Facebook page.
Willowland Farms, located at 199 Potts Spring Road in Dundas, started its strawberry picking season early this year due to the warm weather. Willowland Farms has been growing strawberries for the past two decades on Walter and Bruce Thompson’s family farm that like most farms in the area started as a tobacco farm until the brothers turned it into a produce farm in 1986.
The half-acre of strawberry plants were planted in late August in the black plastic similar to Cabbage Farm and were ready around the middle of April, as opposed to late April or early May, due to the warm weather that came early this year.
The strawberries can either be picked while visiting, and already picked strawberries are also available. The farm is open Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, stop by the farm during their open hours or call (434) 298-7107 or (434) 676-2157.
Circle H Farms Meat & Produce, located at 815 Tabernacle Road in Buffalo Junction, is one of the newer strawberry harvesters in the Mecklenburg area. Eddie and Amanda Hite have turned the Hite family’s farm that started as a tobacco farm in 1901 into a meat and produce farm. Amanda Hite said the idea of selling produce started with her and her husband growing crops that their family enjoyed eating, and then they decided to go a little bigger and grow crops for the community to enjoy.
The Hite family has been running Circle H Farms Meat & Produce for about seven years now, and the strawberry crops were added three years ago and have been a big hit in the area.
Amanda said they started growing strawberries with the black plastic cover that most seasonal strawberry patches use on their crops, but she said they noticed the plastic was causing the roots to get too hot and the plants were dying at the end of each season. In an attempt to keep the strawberry plants alive throughout the year so that they would keep producing, they removed the plastic and use as little chemicals as possible to allow the plants to grow naturally surviving off of rainwater and sunlight. Amanda said this year was one of the smallest yields and latest growth they have seen due to the wet and cool weather that occurred in March.
Circle H Farms Meat and Produce sells strawberries and other produce both at the Southside Farm Market in Chase City and from their farm. For more information on how to get strawberries from Circle H Farm call (434) 210-6441 or (434) 210-6204.
Local strawberry harvesters work hard all year round to make sure the crops are ready by May for everyone to pick and enjoy fresh, ripe strawberries with family and friends.