Strawberries are a finicky fruit. They love the heat and hate the humidity,
They thrive in the sun but need just the right amount of rain, which is why their growing season is shorter than many other local fruits and vegetables.
"Usually strawberry season gets started around the first of April, and runs till around the end of may, it may run into June a little bit, it just depends on how hot the weather gets how quick." says Dothan farmer David Bell Jr.
The fruit's trips to local markets are short lived because of their brief season, and sweet taste.
Bell said, "The ones in the grocery stores' been hauled usually from California or South Florida or somewhere, ours are a little bit fresher some people say they have a better taste because they are fresher".
But not only must the weather be just right, rain isn't this fruit's only enemy.
Regional Extension Agent for Wiregrass Commercial Horticulture Neil Kelly said "they’re very similar to a lot of our other vegetable crops they’re really prone to any type of disease whether it be airborne or soil borne type disease so we really recommend getting on a good spray schedule every seven to ten days and stick in to the schedule"
Other enemies are more mobile.
"You deal with spider mites different types of plant bugs, occasional aphids and trips" said Kelly and which is why strawberries can be a high maintenance crop.
Kelly said, "Field to fields is always different, we recommend going by a general guideline, and really spend a lot of time in your fields doing scouting and tailor that program to fit your specific farm."
"We've had a real good season so far, we've picked a lot of strawberries, had a lot of real good strawberries.. with the last couple days with the rainy weather it sort of hurts a little bit, they wont quite hold up as long... they're really not a rainy weather crop." said Bell.
So whether you buy a basket pre-picked or pick your own, grab some strawberries before they're gone.
You can purchase them at Bell Farms on Iris Rd. in Dothan. The first Farmers Market of the Summer also opens Tuesday, May 26th at the Houston County Farm Center in Dothan.
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