Local strawberry growers say crop excellent despite slow start

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HINESBURG, Vt. (WCAX) Some local farmers were worried that the cold, wet spring would impact strawberry season, but they are finding the sun arrived just in time.

Farmers at Full Belly Farm in Hinesburg say that because the cold weather and rain slowed down growing, it created an amazing crop of strawberries.

"As soon as the sun came out everything just took right off from all the rain they got earlier in the season," said Stephen Park, the farm's co-owner.

Despite a slow start, Park says their strawberries are the best they've ever seen. "They've flowered twice as much as normal and they are loaded with fruit," he said.

Park, who runs the farm with his wife, admits that all the rain this spring made him nervous about being able to get out into the field. And if he can't access his crop, then the big fear becomes mold.

"As long as we can keep the fruit picked fast enough, then there's not really any mold or rot problems and we really haven't seen any so far," said Park.

This is good news for strawberry pickers like Fran Putnam, who had her own doubts about the season. "I was worried about it," she said.

Putnam has been picking strawberries for at least 40 years. She goes at least once a week during the picking season to make sure she's bringing home the perfect berries. "These berries are obviously beautiful," she said.

There are a few characteristics Putnam is looking for in the perfect strawberry -- smooth, red all over, no soft spots, and a good size -- the bigger the better.

Now that picking season is underway, the Parks say the season is off to a great start and there's still plenty of picking. "I think a lot of people might assume that because we are getting later in July that the strawberry picking will be over soon, but because it started late, it's going late," said Park.

He thinks there's still at least two weeks left in the strawberry picking season.