Best year for strawberries in decades, farmers say
This year opposite of last year's drought-affected crop
Ottawa-area farmers are crediting a perfect mix of heat and rain for an abnormally large, flavourful crop of strawberries this summer.
The owner of Ottawa’s Shouldice Farms said they haven’t seen a crop like this in almost 20 years.
"Bountiful is the word I would use for it," said Larry Shouldice at their Merivale Road location.
"They’re a very good size, very good flavour and by far the best crop we’ve seen in a long time."
Shouldice added it usually takes pickers 20 to 30 minutes to fill a four-litre basket, but this year it’s taking them around 10 minutes and they can fill baskets using fruit from 10 feet of plants.
That’s compared to 20 to 25 feet in a normal year.
Big change from last year’s drought
Further south, Oven’s Berry Farm said their berries are just as plentiful.
"We were worried in the spring when other crops had a lot of winter injury, but somehow the strawberries came through," said co-owner Ron Ovens.
"We’ve been at it 35 years and this is the best year."
Last year’s strawberry crop was hit hard by drought, to the point where Shouldice said some farmers in the Pakenham area had "nothing to pick."
"You couldn’t find two years more opposite," Shouldice said.
"Last year we went for I believe it was 39 days without a drop of rain … we had a season of 21 days picking when normally we like to go for 30 to 35 days."
However, pickers are coming back.
"Turnout has been great, word-of mouth is spreading," Ovens said.