Three weeks ago Nic Roth, with Roth Countryside Produce, wasn’t for sure if his strawberries would even bloom. Now, he’s picking them in mass quantities.
“We’ve been picking strawberries for about a week and a half. We finally have some nice, warm, and sunny weather, and lots of berries are starting to ripen up now,” said Roth.
With spring starting off wet and cool, Roth was worried about his plants. Strawberries are sensitive to temperature and water availability. Reports from the USDA show too much water can cause the strawberry to take on a “watery” flavor, but he was surprised his berries dodged that effect.
“Luckily our strawberry crop started ripening up right when the heavy rainfalls were starting to slow down and we’ve had some great sunny days. The berry size is excellent and the flavor is awesome,” said Roth.
Roth plants what are called ‘June-Bearing Varieties’, which gives them about a month long picking season.
Roth’s dad built a machine to make picking a lot of berries more comfortable.
“We strattle the row with the machine. You’re laying down and you’re able to hover right over the berries and pick without stepping all over the berries,” said Roth.
Climate plays a big role in where strawberries are grown. Reports show California produces over ninety percent of the strawberry crops we see in stores because they can be produced year round. Roth says growing strawberries locally have a completely different flavor due to the Illinois climate.
“The home garden type of strawberry, which is what we grow here, have a much sweeter flavor, and they are a much tastier strawberry compared to what we are used to eating in the non-summer months,” said Roth.
Roth and his family run their produce stand in Morton during the week.
Everything is picked straight from the farm and delivered to local customers.
“The farm is only two miles away from where we are selling our vegetables, and it just doesn’t get any fresher than that,” said Roth.
Click here to find more information about Roth Countryside Produce.