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Oklahoma strawberry growers optimistic for 2021 harvest

Todd Johnson, OSU Agricultural Communications Services ellis_strawberries_banner.jpg
A light frost in mid-April damaged plants at select locations, but Adair County’s strawberry harvest is expected to produce yields comparable to 2020.
Adair County celebrates strawberry harvest with its annual Strawberry Festival.

Despite Oklahoma's hard February freeze along with a light frost in this spring, Adair County’s strawberry harvest is expected to produce yields comparable to 2020.

The county’s eight strawberry growers set out their plants last fall. February's below-freezing temperatures were cause for concern but Jennifer Patterson, Adair County Extension educator, said technology and snow helped save much of the crop.

“From the conversations I’ve had with our growers, they suffered a 3% to 4% loss, but the frost cloth solar blankets helped,” Patterson said. “Also, the snow acted as an insulator and protected the plants from the sub-zero weather.”

Growers faced another scare in mid-April when a light frost damaged the strawberry plants at select locations, but for those operations that survived growers are optimistic about the 2021 harvest. Berry picking has commenced and will continue into June.

“The crop looks comparable to last year’s,” she said.

To celebrate the harvest, Adair County is hosting its annual Strawberry Festival this week. The three-day event, May 5-8, includes berry picking, an auction, carnival, rodeo and talent contest.

“One of our farms implemented some new varieties and technology and hopes to have 1,000 flats available on festival day,” Patterson said.

The Strawberry Festival is the Adair County Kiwanis Club’s largest fundraiser with proceeds allocated to strawberry growers, community initiatives and youth projects. Visit the Stilwell Kiwanis website for more details about this year’s Strawberry Festival.

For those interested in learning how to preserve strawberries, Barbara Brown, OSU Extension food specialist, demonstrates how to use a steam canner and a steam juice extractor on Oklahoma Gardening.

Strawberry Recipes

Strawberry Cranberry Jam

Strawberry Salsa

Strawberry Asparagus Salad

Savory Strawberry Topping

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry and Cream Cheese English Muffins

TAGS: strawberries
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