FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Potential late spring freeze could harm strawberry crop

Local News

(WFRV) – Growing strawberries is a risky business to get into because farmers have to invest a lot of money before seeing any return on that investment.

Russell J. Allen, the co-owner of Allens’ Allenville Sweet Corn said, “You have approximately $5,000 an acre invested and you have no return for a year and two months.”

The Allen’s have ten acres of strawberries planted for this season.

“So one of the problems with frost is if you have years that have been in the ground and are ready to produce and you lose that production you basically lose $5,000 an acre plus whatever extra monies you have in them,” said Allen.

Because farmers have to plant their strawberry crops 14 months before they are picked this ties up a lot of money in a risky crop that could die due to the changing climate.

“I’d probably lose a potential of maybe $100,000 gross income,” said Allen.

In Steven’s Point, berry farmers are proactively trying to save their crops with their irrigation systems.

Chet Skippy, of Chet’s Blueberry Farm, said, “What happens, it will completely cover them with ice and insulate them but you have to keep the irrigation going until all the ice is gone.”

Using ice to save crops from a late freeze seems backward but it has saved countless crops from ruin.

In Oshkosh, at the Allen’s farm, they are hoping the lakes surrounding their property will help to keep their strawberries alive without needing any intervention.

“I could burn bails. I’m not going to do it. I’m too old to fight that fight anymore,” Allen.

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