Berry growers cautiously optimistic about coming season

Paul Hutchings
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Debbie Easton of Deer Lake picks a tray of strawberries at Lomond Farms in Pasadena in this 2013 photo. — Star file photo

One of the worst winters on record could actually lead to one of the best seasons for berry growing, some local growers say.

Lots of snow coverage, as most areas are experiencing, could lead to more berries being produced if all goes well, said Gerard Beaulieu.

Beaulieu operates a fruit business during the summer months, selling items he grows locally. Speaking on the phone from his winter home in Florida, he said what we would call a good winter — meaning one without snow — would be terrible for the berries.

“The snow coverage actually makes it warmer for them. I’ve lost thousands of dollars after what most people would call a good winter,” he said. “I got out of strawberries. It’s too labour intensive, although I will still buy and sell them.”

Beaulieu said the snow cover keeps the ground surrounding the berry roots from getting to below -17 C. A late spring with lots of snow cover reflects the sunlight, which lets the plant start later in the spring, especially for strawberries, when there is less risk of frost.

Ron Gordon of Gordon’s Farm in Pynn’s Brook agreed that it could be a good year. But he said sometimes it’s not the snow cover, but what happens after.

“We got plenty of snow last year but you can’t go by that,” said Gordon. “By the time the strawberries came along we had all that dry weather and it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but we’ll see.”

Gordon said he’ll know more as the year progresses. Beaulieu said he is still growing other items, such as pears, and hopes to start up again in May.

Geographic location: Florida, Pynn

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