Weather kind to Sunshine Farms’ strawberries

Published 9:22 pm Friday, April 23, 2010

Peaches may be a few weeks off, but strawberries are ripe for the picking.

Sunshine Farms’ recent crop of strawberries has customers driving from at least 70 miles away to pick their very own fruit to bring home.

So far, the word of mouth is strong, according to owner Tim Minor, who is pleased with the loyal clientele he’s built over the years.

“We’ve had a good turnout for the first week of harvest,” Minor said.

If people are unable to pick their own berries due to disability or lack of time, the farm also offers already-picked fruit they sell at their field stand.

They opened for picking last Monday, and Minor said customer volume has been solid all week. He cites the weather as a positive factor for business.

“We had what we call a good hard winter this year,” he said. “We normally open around early April, but cold weather set the plants back about two weeks. But the plants are really healthy, and the weather conditions are perfect for strawberries.”

He said the crops didn’t see too much water. An excess of rain would kill the taste, he said.

They opened the strawberry field about 10 days late due to some weather issues. He said they’re also concerned about how quick temperatures will enter the 90 degree range, when he said the fruit will stop producing.

“We’re hoping to hold on to these temperatures to keep our plants healthy as long as we can,” he said. “We hope the crop will go through the first week of June.”

While strawberry season continues to be good to Sunshine Farms, Minor is looking forward to bringing peaches back to the forefront. He hasn’t started harvesting anything yet, he said. They’re about a month away from introducing the first varieties. He said to look for the first of the full crop sometime between May 15-20.

“The crop looks really healthy right now,” Minor said. “Weather conditions have been ideal. It’s the best we’ve had in the last five years for producing a good crop. It’s been cool and dry, which helps keep down any kind of bacteria or infections on the fruit.”

He said beyond that, the crops could use a good rainstorm, which looks likely Saturday.

Sunshine Farms will close its strawberry picking Saturday due to a severe weather forecast. Minor said it will give the fruit a nice opportunity to grow anyway. The farm will reopen early on Monday morning. The strawberry farm is located on County Road 37 towards Billingsley.