PEI

Plenty of Island strawberries but fewer growers this season

It has been a good season for Island strawberry growers, but over the years the number of growers across the Island has declined.

'This is the best-quality strawberries that we've ever produced'

Matthew Compton, owner of Compton's Vegetable Stand, says he is picking past the typical three-week strawberry season. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

It has been a good season for Prince Edward Island strawberry growers, but over the years the number of growers across the Island has declined.

Matthew Compton says his season is a little bit longer than the typical three weeks because of a new variety of strawberry.

"We're actually still picking strawberries. We started on the 8th of July and we're still going. We're going to get this weekend with them for sure," said Compton, owner of Compton's Vegetable Stand in Summerside.

Compton said the new variety of strawberry will supply his stand for the next couple of weeks, but there isn't "a whole lot."

"The typical season is three weeks on Prince Edward Island, we're into our fourth," Compton said.

Strong season

Other growers are likely to wrap up this week, with only a few growers like Compton still "picking sporadically," he said.

Compton says the number of strawberry growers Island-wide is down. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"Some growers are probably average, some growers are a little bit above average. Ourselves, we're probably a little bit above average this year."

This season was so good it made up for last year's season which battled frost, bringing the numbers over the last two years to the expected average yield, Compton said.

"This is the best-quality strawberries that we've ever produced as far as size, flavour, consistency and how they're holding up in storage. It has been really, really exceptional this year," Compton said, adding rain came at just the right times this season.

Number of growers on decline

Though the season was a good one, the number of growers has declined over the years, Compton said.

Compton was president of the P.E.I. Strawberry Growers Association, which recently disbanded.

"Just dwindling growers," he said. "There is five or six growers within the large scale, and there is probably about a dozen growers of, you know, an acre or more of strawberries."

Compton said growers decided it would cost too much to keep the association running, but they still talk with one another and maintain a relationship.

In the past there were about 25 strawberry farmers on the Island, but "growers get older," Compton said, and younger growers aren't getting into the industry.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown

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