Trouble afoot for strawberry farmers hit by floods


(WGNO) — Many people in Tangipahoa Parish lost their homes in August’s flood.  Some of those who grow strawberries lost their land.

According to the LSU Ag Center’s office in Amite, the hardest hit areas are below Interstate 12 in the parish.  But the farmers didn’t lose strawberry plants; they lost the soil where they grow.

The flood waters washed away the rich soil in their fields, leaving behind sand.  And strawberries don’t grow well in sand.

Each year, strawberry farmers must prepare their fields for the fall planting season.  Drainage is key.  Any farmers who’d already finished that process saw their hard work also get washed away with the soil.

Every year, farmers plant new strawberry plants, and that isn’t scheduled to begin until late September.  But the farmers who lost acreage must bring in new soil.

Ponchatoula is known for its strawberries and Strawberry Festival.  But other areas of Tangipahoa also raise strawberries.  Many of those are above I-12 and, according to the Ag Center, are facing no effects from flooding.

LSU Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the floods could lead to higher prices for strawberries.

There’s still a long way to go before next year’s harvest.  At this point, it’s too early to know if the floods will have any effect on prices.  But it will surely be a hit for some of the farmers who grow them.