By BRIAN SHANE
The Daily Times of Salisbury
SELBYVILLE, Del. (AP) — The strawberry picking is so good right now that Ellen Magee says customers can stand in one spot in her field and fill their containers.
It’s her 25th year growing strawberries at her Selbyville farm, where visitors can take a wagon ride to pick-your-own strawberry fields. She also has local honey, strawberry cider and strawberry jam.
Strawberries should be around in another month or so, but it depends on the weather, Magee said. Cool nights and moderate days mean a longer season, while hotter temperatures will cause the berries to ripen sooner.
“This is perfect weather right now,” she said. “If it gets up to 85, 90 (degrees), they’re going to melt. A strawberry is 98
percent water, so they’re gonna cook.”
This season, Magee also had a batch of strawberries grown in a greenhouse, and those went early to market. She said it may not have worked if the area hadn’t experienced a mild winter.
She said greenhouse strawberries are different than ones grown in a field because they’re pollinated by bumblebees instead of honeybees. The greenhouse also regulates temperature, as opposed to Mother Nature in the field.
Magee said the history of strawberry growing in Selbyville goes back decades, when the town used to be known as the “Strawberry Capital of the World.”
In Rehoboth Beach, locally grown strawberries are popular at Tomato Sunshine, a garden center and farm market. Owner Ernie DeAngelis said he buys his berries from a local grower and sells them retail.
“Now everybody wants local strawberries,” he said. “As soon as the weather breaks like this, everybody’s looking for them.”
“The quality’s been really good so far this year,” he added. “I guess the amount of rain, and it cooled down right before they were supposed to come on, so they’ve gotten some nice size.”
Once summer gets rolling and strawberries are done, DeAngelis will have asparagus and peaches and cantaloupe for sale.
In Maryland, strawberry grower Gorman Brittingham said his crop came on early.
“And that means they’ll be leaving early,” he said. “They have just so many days.”
Gorman’s farm, Strawberry Fields Forever, is located near Powellville, off Mount Hermon Road. He said the weather has been a little wonky for his berries and they’re not quite as plentiful as he’d like.
“In other words, in March, we had April weather,” he said. “When April came, we had March weather, if that tells you
Gorman said while they’re in season, he’ll have a bowl of strawberries every night with dinner.
“I love to eat them, too,” he said. “I’m my own best customer.”
Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md. http://www.delmarvanow.com
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)