ST. TAMMANY - If you've been to the grocery in the past week or two looking for Louisiana strawberries, you may have a similar story to Lois Patton.
"There just hasn't been any in any of the stores in Bogalusa," she said.
Local grocers like Acquistapace in Covington say it's just that time of year.
"We're at the end of the season," said Adam Acquistapace, "Our customers expect us to carry strawberries throughout the year, but strawberries are only available locally, in the local produce, for a very short window. So now we have strawberries that may be coming from Florida, or actually right now I think they're coming from California."
Area strawberry farmers say their peak, six-week season generally runs from mid-March through May 1, with the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival, held two weeks ago, hitting at the height. This year, a mild winter allowed the plants to produce earlier, sending berries to stores sooner, and as a result, the end of season transition in groceries, from local to out-of-state strawberries, is starting a little ahead of time.
But the local berry supply is not done for the year just yet. You just have to look a little harder at farmer's markets or roadside stands. And there are plenty of berries to be found at both, daily.
Madisonville is where Patton's family brought her to get her fix.
"I have a cake to make," she said, "A strawberry shortcake."
Right behind Patton was Jill Lee, a new resident to the area, but raised on a strawberry farm in Florida. So she not only knows local berries are best, but that local berries are now a hot commodity.
"I'm glad to find some," she said, "I want to get a bunch to put in the freezer for jam so I wanted to get stocked up."
So strawberry buyers beware, the clock on local crop is ticking. Area farmers say they'll have enough crop this year to get them to Mother's Day.
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