Oklahoma strawberry growers optimistic for 2021 harvest
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
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There’s anticipation of a more normal summer in 2021 when food festivals, farmers markets and other seasonal events that showcase Oklahoma agriculture return to the calendar.
After hosting a smaller, scaled down version of the annual event last year, Adair County is bringing back its Strawberry Festival in May with berry picking, an auction, carnival, rodeo and talent contest.
The county’s eight strawberry growers set out their plants in the fall, so the cold snap Oklahoma suffered in February was cause for concern. However, Jennifer Patterson, Adair County Extension Educator, said technology and snow helped save much of the crop.
“From the conversations I’ve had with our growers, they suffered a 3% to 4% loss, but the frost cloth solar blankets helped,” Patterson said. “Also, the snow acted as an insulator and protected the plants from the sub-zero weather.”
Growers faced another scare in mid-April when a light frost damaged the strawberry plants at select locations, but for those operations that survived growers are optimistic about the 2021 harvest. Berry picking has commenced and will continue into June.
“The crop looks comparable to last year’s,” she said. “One of our farms implemented some new varieties and technology and hopes to have 1,000 flats available on festival day.”
The Strawberry Festival is the Adair County Kiwanis Club’s largest fundraiser with proceeds allocated to strawberry growers, community initiatives and youth projects. Visit the Stilwell Kiwanis website for more details about this year’s Strawberry Festival, May 5-8.