The Summer Food Staple

Shortcake, sundaes, jam.  What do they have in common? Each is tastefully complemented with strawberries.

Strawberry production and purchasing is in its prime this time of year, as are strawberry festivals. Some examples:

  •      Troy Strawberry Festival — Troy, Ohio
  •      Depot Town Strawberry Showcase — Ypsilanti, Michigan
  •      Newark Strawberry Festival — Newark, Ohio
  •      Strawberry Days — Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
  •      The Belleville National Strawberry Festival — Belleville, Michigan
“Farmers from Lake Erie to the banks of the Ohio River are harvesting strawberries now,” said Brad Bergefurd, an OSU Extension horticulture specialist in a recent OSU Extension story.

According to the USDA ERS, Ohio harvested 730 thousand acres of strawberries last year.

Like other crops, strawberries have trade association representation. The North American Strawberry Growers Association (NASGA) supports USDA and state/provincial research programs and develops educational seminars and publications, promotes development of equipment, varieties and cultural methods to improve efficiency for the strawberry industry to strengthen and improve strawberry production and marketing.

An example of such industry development is a new strawberry production method being tested at The Ohio State University Extension called plasticulture. A recent story details the practice — allowing farmers to grow strawberries with better commercial attributes — larger fruit size, more sugar content and better disease resistance — and that can also be harvested as early as the first week of May and as late as October.

Plasticulture strawberries have the potential to yield 20,000 to 25,000 pounds of strawberries per acre, compared to 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of strawberries per acre using the traditional matted-row method.

Retail strawberries are priced about $2.50 to $3.50 per pound, so the opportunity for increased profits is appealing for farmers who take the time to invest in this new growing method.

“Just about every Ohio farmer that grows them for retail always sells out, so there is a strong market for the locally grown fruit,” said Bergefurd.

This superfood is healthy, tasty and adaptable for many recipes (and eases the pain of sunburns!). How do you most enjoy strawberries?  

Photo obtained from: Ashlee Culverhouse

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