Later start, great crop
This year’s long, drawn-out spring has pushed the season back a week or two, but Merrill’s strawberry farms are expecting a great crop as picking begins this week.
Engelberry Farm on Hwy. 107 opens for picking today – that’s over a week later than the typical year, noted owner Mike Matushak.
With heavier soil, the nearby M&M Strawberry Farm is running a little later, with picking set to start July 1.
“We would typically be open by the end of June,” said M&M owner Willie Kimmons.
Both growers opened extremely early last year, as the plants responded to unseasonably hot weather. The picking season in Merrill was done before the Fourth of July.
“Last year was the earliest ever,” Kimmons said. “Last year was not normal. This is a hair more normal.”
Both farms anticipate excellent crops this year and a picking season that will extend well into July.
“The weather just slowed things down,” Kimmons said. “The crop is outstanding.”
A good picking season lasts three to four weeks.
“We’ll be picking past mid July,” Matushak said. “A good rule of thumb is three weeks.”
Engelberry typically takes the much off their plants on April 15. As cold temperatures lingered on, they had to wait an extra two weeks, Matushak said. Now the plants are trying to make up for lost time.
“They’ll catch themselves back up,” Matushak said.
With the opening dependent on the weather, both farms have been getting a lot of calls from loyal berry pickers.
“Our phone has been ringing off the hook,” Kimmons said.