Warm, mild spring means earlier strawberries, but not everywhere

·2 min read
A mild spring for some parts of the province means bigger strawberries this season. (Katie Hartai/CBC - image credit)
A mild spring for some parts of the province means bigger strawberries this season. (Katie Hartai/CBC - image credit)

A burst of good news for strawberry-lovers and farmers: the plump, juicy berries are maturing early this year, at least for one grower.

Lots of moisture last fall and this spring, and the lack of late frosts, are making for a bumper crop, according to David Walker, the owner of Sunset U-Pick in Fredericton.

"It looks like it's going to be one of the best seasons we've ever had," he said speaking to Information Morning Moncton.

Walker said Canada Day will mark the peak of the season at the U-pick, and store shelves are starting to fill with those signature wooden containers packed with berries.

He expects high production from his plants until the end of the season, around July 23.

Katie Hartai/CBC
Katie Hartai/CBC

Walker said the fruits harvested right now were set out by the plants last fall. If the plants have lots of water, fertilizer, no insects or disease, they produce bigger and more plentiful flowers.

But unlike more temperate areas, New Brunswick has four different growing zones, depending on where you live. The southern parts have milder winters, which increase in severity as you move up to the north. Coastal areas also have different weather than inland parts, which contributes to the diversity of climate.

There's a bunch of luck involved too. - David Walker, Fredericton U-pick owner

Christian Michaud, president of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, farms in Bouctouche, on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

He said while the Fredericton area, which is 230 kilometres southwest and inland of Bouctouche, started the season three weeks ago, his season is just a week along.

He said he's not upset about this because an early start of the season could mean a bigger harvest, or it could mean a shorter season with the same yield as past years.

"[My] plants are looking very healthy. But the the yield is nothing to be excited about," he said. "It's not disappointing, but the average."

Katie Hartai/CBC
Katie Hartai/CBC

He said his spring was cooler, which means his strawberry plants did not get the shot of warmth that helped plants in the south along.

"It seems this year we had, we skipped the June. We had two months of May and then we went straight to July," he said.

But every year is different. Walker said last season, frost killed 25 per cent of the flower buds. No frost, plus 10 warm days in May, brought the fruit on early.

"There's a bunch of luck involved too, working with Mother Nature, you work with her, you don't try to control her," Walker said.

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