ALPENA The first of Northern Michigan's strawberries began appearing for sale Tuesday out of the back of trucks parked along the city's major streets. From there they made their way into offices and kitchens county wide to be savored, frozen or cooked into jams.
Jerry Grove said his berries were grown by a farmer in the Lachine area, and he and his son picked them for the first time Tuesday, starting at 6 a.m. The task took them two hours.
His prices started at $3 a quart, and the berries were a lush, brilliant red hue.
New Photo by Betsy Lehndorff
Jerry Grove sells the first of this year’s strawberries out of the back of his pickup truck near the intersection of US-23-N and S. Ripley Boulevard.
"The crop is fairly good this year, but the weather needs to help us out," Grove said, noting that the fruits have been slow to ripen up.
According to the Michigan State University Extension, 750 acres of strawberries were cultivated last year, and the value of that production was $4.8 million. Michigan ranks eighth in the United States for the number of acres that are planted.
Duke Elsner, Ph.D, a small fruit educator with the extension in Traverse City, said the area is good for strawberry growing because of its sandy soil.
"The ground can dry out quickly, which is good for fruit that lays on the ground," he said.
He said some farmers in Northern Michigan have had to do a little irrigating because of a lack of rain.
"But usually a dry year means very good fruit quality, because they are not battling diseases," Elsner said.
The season should last about two weeks longer if it is cooler, shorter if temperatures rise, he said.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.