The 43rd Annual Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival is coming to Memorial Park April 11, 12, 13.
Since December local growers have had to endure periods of brutally, even record-breaking cold temperatures.
“I was inside all the time and now I`m outside all the time and I love it,” Strawberry Farmer Eric Morrow said.
Fifteen years ago Eric Morrow left his desk job in Chicago to get back to life on their family farm. During harvest time he and his crew of twenty hit the field and start picking as early as 6:30 a.m. They are still trying to catch up after being nearly two months behind on production because of this year’s cold.
“It’s tough to sit and watch every day goes by the calendar starts clicking off each by day. The window of opportunity is closing,” Morrow explains. “Though we were going to have something for Valentine`s Day… We say were going to pick in two weeks. We`re going to pick in two weeks… We still haven`t picked too much.”
The cold shoulder of winter is not the only obstacle for area farmers in recent years.
“The higher prices of fuel, boxes, materials, fertilizer, plastics, you know everything has gone up. The price of berries is staying flat,” Morrow explains.
Producers are trying to beat the other spectrum of the temperature scale. Berries will have to be harvest before afternoon highs get too warm, causing the strawberries to lose flavor. These kinds of fruits are a boost to the local economy, keeping consumer’s money in the state. Rather than overseas…while giving shoppers what they want.
“Consumers have demanded they want some Louisiana berries in the stores. You`re buying a Ponchatoula`s berry you`re buying the whole ambience of what it means to be here,” Morrow said.