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Plunging Temperatures Have Strawberry Farmers Covering Crops

Friday, April 06, 2018 | 10:52am
strawberry_field

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s eagerly-anticipated strawberry season is a month away, but the frigid weekend forecast has many growers watching the weather and covering their crops.

Some areas of the state will experience temperatures dipping into the 20s. Tennessee strawberry growers are accustomed to cold snaps and say they are prepared to keep this year’s crop on target without significant damage. Strawberry farmers roll out heavy cloths and drape them over rows of berries to shield the tender plants. Straw may also be spread similar to mulch. The process is labor intensive, but worth the effort.

“We were out until midnight Wednesday making sure the strawberry plants were covered,” Paul White of White’s Family Farm in Springfield said. “Because we have prepared, we do not expect much of an impact from the cooler weather. Strawberries will be ready on time.”

Strawberries in West Tennessee are typically ready for harvest by May 1, with crops ripening eastward across the state as the month progresses. Upper East Tennessee’s strawberry season may begin in June and last through the end of that month. With such a wide range of elevations and temperatures across the state and even farm to farm, every strawberry farmer in Tennessee will be on alert until the weather warms.

It’s best to call local growers to find out when their patch is ready to pick, hours of operation, and how the berries are sold. Some farms provide their own containers, while others are pick-your-own. Some growers also sell berries at local farmers markets.

There are 180 farms that offer strawberries listed online at www.PickTNProducts.org and on the free Pick TN mobile app. Pick Tennessee Products is the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s service that connects farmers to consumers. Follow Pick Tennessee on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for seasonal updates about Tennessee farm-direct foods, local source restaurants, and farm activities.