P.E.I. strawberries looking good and on schedule, but may cost a bit more

·2 min read
The price of strawberries is expected to go up by as much as 75 cents a quart at some places. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC - image credit)
The price of strawberries is expected to go up by as much as 75 cents a quart at some places. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC - image credit)

The first Prince Edward Island strawberries of the season are on schedule for the end June, and it's not just customers who are waiting to sink their teeth into the sweet red fruit.

It's something grower Matthew Compton looks forward to every year.

"I love the first strawberry," he said.

"The one perk about being a strawberry farmer is you get to enjoy the first strawberry out of the field and you get to enjoy the last strawberry of the field. And I enjoy the first one as much as I enjoy the last one."

Compton, owner of Compton's Farm Market in Summerside, said the mix of sun and rain — and the lack of frost — this spring has made for ideal growing conditions.

$5.50 to $5.75 a quart

As many other businesses, strawberry growing has come with challenges. Inflation has doubled the cost of fertilizer, growers say, and other expenses such as diesel have made production costs higher than in previous years.

That means consumers can expect to pay a little more for a quart of strawberries.

I think sometimes as farmers we're obligated to sometimes take the loss on our product. — Matthew Compton

Last year, a quart of local strawberries went for $5, but this year it could be anywhere from $5.50 to $5.75, growers say.

"It's a tricky subject," Compton said.

"I think sometimes as farmers we're obligated to sometimes take the loss on our product when it comes to pricing or price increases. It seems like sometimes the farmer is the last person to you know, recoup some of their losses in pricing."

May be better than last year

Will Trainor, owner Red Point Strawberries in Johnston's River, agrees all signs point to a bountiful season. He expects his U-Pick to open on schedule at the end of June.

"We had all kinds of rain and sunshine all spring so far so they're looking great. Last year was great, too, and this year may even be better."

The growers say they want to keep prices as low as possible, and try to recoup some of the higher production costs with higher sales volumes

"We don't want to see product left in the field either because, you know, our prices are too out of reach with what people can afford," Compton said.

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