PANDORA — For the first time in over 40 years, Suter’s Produce will not be offering strawberries.
It was first week of June when co-owner Jerry Suter noticed the berries were not developing to the right size. After discovering several thrips on his crops, he knew the 1-millimeter insects were to blame.
“They were blown in from the southern states through the abnormally hot May wind and began sucking the life out of the strawberry blooms,” Suter said.
After reaching out to experts like Brad Bergefurd at the Ohio State Extension in Scioto County, he was informed this occurrence was rare, considering the small insects typically do not travel to Ohio.
“It was an extremely rare thing,” said Suter. “We have grown strawberries for three generations, and it’s a first for us seeing them.”
Fortunately, the thrips have not affected the plants and the insects do not overwinter, so there is not likely a problem for next year, according to Suter.
The Suters have also already started a new patch of strawberries, which Suter said will be ready for the next summer.
Despite the situation with the strawberries, the rest of the crops have not been affected and Suter said he is optimistic.
“It had no effect on sweet corn or melons or pumpkins for the fall season,” said Suter. “However, we are not going to set up the little red barns until the sweet corn is ready. But don’t worry, we they will be set up by early July.”
For those who are eager to get their hands on some strawberries this season, they still can. JK Orchard and Farms, 1345 Lutz Road, for the first time this year is offering you-pick strawberries.
Last year co-owner Karen Wince and her mother picked 10,000 strawberries and sold them at Lima-area farmers markets. This year they decided it would be best to allow people to pick their own.
Because of the cooler weather, the berries this year are a little smaller than usual, but Wince said they are still delicious and have become a hot commodity.
“Although the berries are smaller, the plants are loaded,” said Wince. “Everything is organic with no chemicals and by planting clover between the rows it helps feed the plant nitrogen and attract bees to help pollinate.”
The farm is open this season 9-11 a.m. and 5-7:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Hours are subject to change due to weather or low plant production.
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews