Berry farmers crossing fingers more rain doesn't hurt crop further

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wwltv.com

Posted on February 4, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 4 at 7:41 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

PONCHATOULA, La. - Strawberry pickers were picking up the pace to beat rain showers on Monday.

The hope is to prevent losing any of the crop to too much water, like many growers did last month.

"Any fruit that had color to it pretty much had to be picked off and thrown away," said strawberry farmer Heather Robinson.

John Dale’s Farm in Ponchatoula suffered through more than a foot of rainwater in January’s storms, resulting in a drop in dollars for farmers and a slump in supply for strawberry fans.

"In the beginning is when we usually bring in our higher dollar for our berries and that's what we lost so that's what will affect us," Robertson said.

When there are fewer strawberries at the farm, that means fewer strawberries on the streets to sell.

"It makes you wonder are we going to have berries for the festival when it comes," said Joy Riedie, who operates a fruit and vegetable stand in Mandeville.

But since drying out from the deluge over the past few weeks, berry farmers say they’re back on track. They say the fields show it, and the strawberries taste it. But there’s still a fear that February, the traditional wet month, will cause more problems.

"Hopefully the season will keep going and as far as it goes, we'll pick more, our volume will pick up to make up for that loss," Robertson said.

"It was gonna be plentiful and this and that and now, like anything else, it's something we'll just have to go on and try to make the best," said Riedie.

Berry lovers are keeping their fingers crossed.

Strawberries from Tangipahoa Parish will be available Tuesday at the Crescent City Farmers’ Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., which is on the corner of Broadway and River Road Uptown.

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