Tammy Stotts, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Agriculture, says many strawberry growers across the state are predicting a bumper crop, though there had been some concern several weeks ago.
“When you have those warm temperatures early in the spring, there’s an increased risk when we get our frosts as they occur for it to damage the buds and blooms early in the growing season,” Stotts says. “Things leveled out, we got a little cooler and it’s been ideal for strawberries and other crops across the state.” Some Iowa growers who offer to let consumers pick their own berries have already opened their gates, though Stotts notes, this type of berry has a short shelf life.
“You only want to pick them right before you’re going to eat them, about three days,” Stotts says. “They do not continue to ripen after they’re picked, as many fruits and vegetables do. You want to get them when they’re red. Don’t pick them when they’re white.” While some growers are offering fresh berries now, others may be a few weeks away yet, as harvest times vary across the state, given the varied climate.
“They go from white to red in about a week and it’s about 30 days from bloom to fruit,” Stotts says. “You’ve usually got about a three-week window for the strawberry season, the harvest season.” Strawberries are low in calories, fat-free and they’re a good source of vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fiber. Find strawberry growers across Iowa in the Fruit and Vegetable Farms Directory at www.idalsdata.org/fmnp/index.cfm
(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)