Strawberry crops suffering from drought conditions in Ottawa Valley

Some 'pick your own' strawberry stands in the Ottawa area have been forced to shut down early for the season in an effort to preserve strawberry crops suffering from drought conditions.

Rideau Valley currently experiencing 'moderate drought' conditions

Dane Brumm says the 'pick-your-own' strawberry operation at Dekok Farm in Kanata, operated by McGregor's Produce, has shut down early for the season because of drought conditions. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Some "pick-your-own" strawberry stands in the Ottawa area have been forced to shut down early for the season in an effort to preserve strawberry crops suffering from drought conditions.  

The Rideau Valley, and some surrounding areas, are currently experiencing a moderate drought, due to a lack of precipitation this spring and summer.

"All season it hasn't been good for picking your own here … because it's weather dependent, strawberries especially," said Dane Brumm, who works at the Dekok Farm strawberry stand in Kanata, which also sells pre-picked berries.

"Without the rain they don't take in that moisture, they're not as juicy … So we unfortunately had to close the 'you pick' here down early for the season."

Dry conditions are causing strawberries to ripen much slower than normal, according to some local farmers. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Along with the dry conditions, the fluctuating temperatures the region has experienced this spring and summer are interfering with the normal growth of strawberries, according to Peter Rofner, owner of Richmond Nursery on Old Richmond Rd. 

"With the cool weather too, going from cold to hot, to cold to hot … the berries are ripening a lot slower than they normally would," said Rofner. 

"We're now having to wait two, maybe three days between picks. And it's just slowing it down a little more."

Rofner said strawberries ideally need about 25 millimetres of rain per week. 

Only 26.2 millimetres of rain fell in Ottawa during the entire month of May, according to data from Environment Canada.