LIMA — Following two years of diminished crops due to late spring frosts, this strawberry season is booming with blooming plants.
The strawberry picking season in 2021 lasted just three days at JK Orchard and Farm, which began its pick-your-own strawberry business six years ago. Due to good weather, this year’s picking season arrived two weeks early, and co-owner Karen Wince expects it to last three weeks or longer.
“We’re really excited about this year. The crop looks great, the plants are loaded and the berries we’ve tasted are yummy,” Wince said.
Strawberries bloom in three waves, explained Wince. The first wave yields larger strawberries that appear in a “sporadic” pattern. During the second bloom, “the whole field just explodes overnight.” In the last wave, the strawberries are “popping up here and there” until the season is done. This year produced a bumper crop, with all three blooms preserved.
At Suter’s Produce in Pandora, the strawberries are “blooming nicely right now, and they are enjoying some warm temperatures and sunny weather,” according to its website, suterproduce.com. The farm expects its strawberry season wil begin in early June, according to the website for the farm near Pandora.
Lincoln Ridge Farms, near Convoy, posted on its Facebook page, facebook.com/lincolnridgefarms, on Sunday morning that its strawberry blossoms were starting to show some tiny green strawberries, noting, “Everything is progressing beautifully at the farm.”
Jutte’s Fruit Farm, located near Fort Recovery, reported on its Facebook page, bit.ly/3lB0XPI, that it had lots of blossoms and was just a few weeks away from strawberry season. The farm urged fans to check back to its page for updates in the coming weeks.
JK Orchard & Farm’s family-friendly agri-tourism business is open to all ages. Based on crops in past years with high yields, Wince expected more than 1,000 people will visit the farm, located at 1345 Lutz Road, Lima, during strawberry picking season. Open days and a price list are available by calling 419-604-4145 or by checking their website, jkorchardfarm.com.
“Our mission is to create an atmosphere where people can make memorable and meaningful experiences,” Wince said. “We want it to be a place that people can make memories with their loved ones by spending quality time together.”
While it is possible to purchase strawberries in a grocery store, doing so does not create a family experience. Wince said the freshness and ripeness of the strawberries when picked directly from the strawberry plant in the field is just amazing.
“Store-bought strawberries are usually white in the center because they weren’t ripe, whereas fresh strawberries that you pick locally are red all the way through,” she said. This changes the sweetness, texture and juiciness of the strawberry. “When you bite into one of our strawberries, the juices run down your chin and onto your fingers.”
JK Orchard and Farm uses organic farming practices.
“We don’t use any fungicides or chemicals,” Wince said. After experimenting with many methods of insect and weed management, she found landscape fabric works best. It minimizes weeds and keeps the ground warmer, along with frost-cover blankets, protecting roots from frost.
“It’s very labor-intensive,” Wince said.
This year, working alone, she and her husband, Joe, planted 5,000 strawberry plants on nearly two acres.