Our Black Berry and Raspberry Division will be closing as of JULY 1st. Please contact Lee in the main office for availability. 530-223-1075 or firstname.lastname@example.orgFig. 1. The Carolinas are the U.S. States of North Carolina and South Carolina, considered collectively, and this week I had the double pleasure of being in both states as the start of this new strawberry season. Wed. evening (4/6/16) – just got these two photos from Sue Leggett in NASH COUNTY, NC. The variety is Camarosa, of course! Fig. 1. Photo from “Strawberry City” in Nashville, NC. The grower just sent a note, “Ready to Pick.” Fig. 2. Red-ripe and very impressive Camarosa berries at Strawberry City this afternoon. On Monday afternoon, we had an opportunity to stop by and visit with James Cooley and his assistant, Jerry Blackwell. Jerry gave us an amazing tour of the Strawberry Hill USA operation in Chesnee, SC. They have over 100 acres of strawberries! That’s right, I am not making this up! Fig. 3. One of the workers at Strawberry Hill USA, who is holding up a gallon of freshly picked Camarosa berries (fresh dug plants). Fig. 4. Pretty as a picture! This is a very clever container with handle for carrying 2 gallons. The bucket on the left holds Camarosa berries that are headed for the Cooley Farm kitchen and for making ice cream! Fig. 5. The gallon bucket is a popular picking container in the Carolinas! Earlier in the morning on Monday (4/4) we had a great visit with Bob Hall in York, SC. Fig. 5. Albion ready for picking on Monday in York, SC. This operation is a full 3 weeks ahead of last year! Fig. 6. Another view of Albion crop at the Bush-N-Vine Farm in York. Fig. 7. By next week, these Sweet Ann berries should be ready as well! Bob Hall emphasizes mostly all day-neutrals in his operation. Sweet Ann is a DN from Lassen Canyon Breeding program. Fig. 8. Jim Bagdasarian, Lassen Canyon Strawberry Breeder, sent this photo to me today of Sweet Ann in Salinas, CA (this is an organic strawberry operation). We’re hoping Sweet Ann looks this good in the Carolinas! There are several test sites across NC-SC for the new Lassen varieties (Ruby June, Sweet Ann, Lucia and Scarlet). Jim and his assistant breeder, Nick Pinketon, will be visiting the Carolinas on April 25-27, to review these test sites. There will be a Twilight Tour at one of the locations (Elm City, NC) on the evening of Tuesday April 26! Be on the lookout for details about this exciting tour! Let’s hope we all get through this next go round of freezes that Dr. Jay Shlegal mentioned today in his Weather forecast through May 7th! Have a restful evening! Barclay Polinghttps://strawberries.ces.ncsu.edu/2016/04/picking-is-now-underway-in-the-carolinas/Good morning! There is nothing like just getting your sprinkler system running and then having a main line blow out. A grower from Yadkin County wrote last night: 12:15 frost and 34 canopy. 12:30 blew 5″ main line. Nothing like carrying 30′ joints of pipe in the dark. 1:15 ohirr running and 28 canopy. Feel free to share an update from your farm on how the frost protection went last night. I just happened to get this photo of row covers setting sail at the Rudd farm late yesterday afternoon! Fig. 1. Growers can use the wind to their advantage in applying row covers in advance of a cold event. In this case, you don’t roll the cover out, you let the winds do the work for you! The key is to have your cover pegged down on the windward side of the row. Fig. 2. Row cover application doesn’t have to be so agonizingly difficult if you use the wind to your advantage! A crew of 5 men covered an acre in just 7-8 minutes using this technique! Fig. 3. Before row covers were applied at about 4 pm yesterday at Rudd Farm, they also managed to harvest some of their earliest berries, including berries from cut-off plants which are ahead of plugs. The berry in this photo is Ruby June, a new short day variety from Lassen Canyon. Fig. 4. The same variety on my breakfast cereal this morning. My wife liked it (Ruby June) the best of several varieties, including Camarosa, Merced and Albion. She really enjoyed it on a salad last evening (Fig.5). Fig. 5. Ruby June is quite flavorful, and reminds me of Chandler! It will not need a chocolate treatment!Check out Barclay Poling's latest blog post sharing research and findings from Clyde Gurosik of N. Augusta, SC. You will find his updates on a study he did on Camarosa with ground temperature and Strategic Forcing. Click here to view Barclay's Blog.Dr. Barclay Poling, although retiring in August of 2013, is passionate about his research on strawberry varieties. His focus is on micro-climate modifications or low tunnels and how it effects the production of berries. He recently traveled to Louisiana and checked out the strawberry industry there. Here is a little blurb he wrote on his findings. https://strawberries.ces.ncsu.edu/2016/02/good-morning-from-louisiana-715-am-2416/ Stay tuned for more exciting information relating to Barclay's research.
My Early November Visit to Louisiana’s Tangipahoa Parish – A Strawberry Industry With a Great Tradition
E. Barclay Poling, Professor Emeritus NC State University, Raleigh, NC (12/30/15)In early November, I had a terrific opportunity to visit Louisiana’s strawberry industry in the Tangipahoa Parish, that includes the Hammond, Independence, Springfield, Holden and Ponchatoula growing areas. Just before leaving for my trip on November 3rd, I spent a little time doing some research about this industry. For starters, I decided to see if I could find some information about Louisiana’s current strawberry acreage? But, I discovered that the National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA), actually stopped recording statistics for Louisiana after 1999. In Figure 2, you can see that Louisiana’s strawberry acreage dropped to 450 acres in 1997, and then leveled off at 400 acres in 1998 and 1999. This was a pretty significant drop from the mid-90s. In 1994, for example, the state of Louisiana had 1,100 acres of strawberries. In previous decade (1980-1989), the Louisiana strawberry industry fluctuated between 550 and 700 acres (Figure 3). And, by going back a little further in time, I thought it was interesting to note that Louisiana had 1,300 acres in 1970, and this was only 500 acres less that Florida in that same year (Figure 4). An astounding 23,500 acres in 1931 With a little further investigation, I discovered in Misc. Publication 102, U.S. Department of Agriculture, that in the early decades of the 20th Century, Louisiana had a mere 18,500 acres in 1926. By 1931, strawberry acreage in Louisiana reached 23,500 acres in 1931! Where have all the berries (in Louisiana) gone? Well, there is no question that there has been a considerable “downsizing” in Louisiana strawberry acreage since its peak of nearly 25,000 acres in the early 30’s, but what are we to make of Louisiana’s drop from 1,300 acres in 1970 to 400 acres in 1999 (Figure 2)? Well, I am still investigating that question as of this writing in late December, but I did glean from the Nov. 2004 Crop Profile for Strawberries in Louisiana (LSU AgCenter) that there were:
“400-500 acres primarily in Tangipahoa parish (that includes Hammond), and Livingston parish in the southeastern part of the state.”In a more recent article (2010), I learned that Sandra Benjamin, LSU AgCenter extension agent in Tangipahoa Parish, indicated that “There are about 40 commercial and backyard growers, with about 350 acres of strawberries planted in Tangipahoa Parish.” It was also stated that The Louisiana strawberry industry involves 83 growers who produce more than 380 acres of strawberries for a gross farm value of about $15.2 million (according to the Louisiana Ag Summary). And, in 2010, Tangipahoa Parish was the leading strawberry-producing parish with $11.5 million in sales. Perhaps the strawberry industry in Hammond and Ponchatoula peaked during the 1930s, and then declined greatly after World War II. But, one thing that has not declined in Tangipahoa Parish and across the Bayou State, is the enthusiasm of people in this region for Louisiana strawberries! In 2001, Governor Mike Foster even signed legislation declaring the “Louisiana strawberry" the one and only official state fruit. I have also heard it said that by a famous Louisiana authority on the history of this industry, Ginger Romero:
The strawberry is so ingrained in the way of life, the way of thought, that the minds and hearts of folks of Louisiana’s berry belt can never let it go.I only wish that I had had a little more time on my visit to Louisiana in the week of November 3, 2015, to have slipped over to the archives of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Center for Louisiana Studies, to have had a look at the Ginger Romero Collection which contains in Box 2 an article: Strawberries in Louisiana: From the Klondyke to the Chandler. My arrival in Hammond, Louisiana on Nov. 4th Upon my arrival in Hammond, Louisiana on November 4th, I noticed in the lobby of the Holiday Inn a brochure (cover shown in Figure 5), that described what a really big deal strawberries were in the early part of the last century. Were the older strawberries like Klondike better than today’s varieties? According to U.P. Hedrick, author of The Small Fruits of New York (1925 publication of the NYS Agricultural Experiment Station), the Klondike strawberry berry was a perfect fit for shipping industry such as Louisiana’s strawberry industry in the early part of the 20th Century. But, Hedrick also noted on p. 474 of this massive 614 page book that Klondike’s quality was “scarcely above mediocre.” It is interesting to note in a recent article about the Louisiana strawberry industry, “Preserving the Louisiana heritage strawberry,” that ‘Klondike,’ one of several heritage, or heirloom varieties (including Daybreak, Headliner and Tangi), “tasted intensely of the most pure strawberry flavor.” There seems to be some controversy though about just how flavorful Klondike really was? A strawberry farmer I met in Ponchatoula on my November visit (Eric Morrow), commented in the same article: "Everyone remembers [berries in their] childhood as something special, but in reality they probably wouldn't taste as good as the berries today." (http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gambit/preserving-the-louisiana-heritage-strawberry/Content?oid=1256857) The money flowed south
I particularly enjoyed these statements from the brochure in the hotel lobby in Hammond:
“At the turn of the 20th Century Hammond struck gold, in the form of red. With the development of the strawberry industry, Hammond saw another explosion in growth. The city became a center for growing, processing and shipping strawberries. Boxcar loads of strawberries became a staple of the area and as the trains left the city headed north, the money flowed south.”This brief excerpt from The Louisiana Strawberry Story (Figure 7), describes Ponchatoula’s selling associations that functioned to simplify the marketing of berries for local farmers, as well as help in a number of other important areas like ordering plants: “Farmers might never lay eyes on a buyer. They would deliver their berries to the association which had supplied them with the plants, fertilizers, crates, implements and sometimes, groceries. Associations dealt with the buyers.” The growers who I met in Louisiana’s Tangipahoa parish Most all of the growers I visited in Louisiana’s Tangipahoa parish were small to medium growers (2-8 acres), with the exception of one large producer near the town of Independence, who had about 55 acres for wholesale marketing (Figure 8).