By Debra J. Groom
After maple syrup, is there anything that says sweet and delectable more than strawberries?
Those beautiful, plump, red, juicy fruits are out now across Oswego County. Most growers say the crop looks good and plentiful and delicious.
“The heat has really been ripening them up,” said Eric Behling, of Behling’s Orchards in Mexico. He has about 5 acres of strawberries ready for customers.
“The spring was real good, there was no freeze, which is kind of on the odd side,” he said. He did his normal irrigating, but didn’t have to flood fields with water to keep them warm because spring temperatures never plummeting below freezing.
Pete Ferlito, owner of Ferlito’s Berry Patch in Scriba, agreed.
“We didn’t have a frost — it’s the first year in which a while there’s been no frost,” he said, noting his fields opened for U-pick Wednesday June 18. “We’re just loaded with berries right now.”
When a freeze hits in the spring and fruit have started to flower or bud, they must be protected or the fruit will die. This holds for all fruit, including berries on the ground and apples on the trees.
Ferlito said the winter’s harsh, cold temperatures made him put more straw on his fields to insulate his berries. “I would have probably had a lot of winter kill” if he hadn’t done that, he said.
The cold and wet from last year and this spring had a negative effect on some fields at Godfrey’s Last Stand in Schroeppel. Josephine Godfrey said the stand has fewer strawberries than normal and customers should call (593-7291) before coming out.
U-pick berries are going for about $1.90 to $2 a pound. Many stands also sell quarts of already picked berries for a higher price.
In 2013, New York state ranked eighth in the country in strawberry production with an overall value of $7.729 million.
In 2012, growers harvested 3.2 million pounds of strawberries in New York state.