By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia
Tax season is also strawberry season in Georgia, and this year, growers expect a bountiful supply.
"It looks to be a great year for strawberries, due to the mild, dry conditions we've had," said Gerard Krewer, a horticulturist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "Depending on what part of the state you live in, harvests are either under way or soon to be."
Pick red or mostly red
Unlike blueberries, which are primarily grown in the south Georgia, strawberries are grown statewide, Krewer said. When you pick your own berries, he said, get the ones that are red or mostly red.
"A berry with a green tip will ripen, but the sweetest berries are those that are fully red at picking," he said. "Push back the leaves of the plant to reveal the succulent berries that are tucked into the canopy."
Strawberry grower Sheila Rice of Ashburn, Ga., challenges consumers to put Georgia berries to the test. "If you're used to berries from the grocery store, visit a you-pick farm and compare the berries," she said.
"There's nothing like the taste of a fresh strawberry picked right out of the field," she said. "Nothing against California, but the ones in the grocery store have to be picked so early that the taste really suffers."
Sixty-plus farms across Georgia
Rice said strawberries from you-pick farms are averaging $1.25 a pound this season. She suggests you pick extra berries and store some of the harvest in your home freezer.
"You just wash them, slice them and freeze them," she said. "My kids love eating strawberries all winter long."
You can find the nearest of 62 pick-your-own strawberry farms from the grower list at www.smallfruits.org/Strawberries/Marketing.htm.
Any grower who wants to be added to the list can call the local UGA Extension agent at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)