AUSTIN (KXAN) — While strawberries aren’t one of the crops Texas is best known for, the state does produce thousands of the fruits each year. Finding them this year might be a little harder than usual.
The Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office is reporting that after freezing temps this past winter and the extreme heat that followed, many farmers had a hard time growing the berries.
Meteorologist Kristen Currie spoke with Dr. Russel Wallace with the Agrilife Extension Office to learn more about Texas strawberries and why the season was so harsh on the fruits. You can read the full interview below or watch the video above to learn more.
KRISTEN CURRIE, KXAN NEWS: I think a lot of people know Texas when it comes to fruit production for the grapefruits and the peaches, but strawberries are also produced here in the Lone Star State. So joining me today to talk more about that is Dr. Russel Wallace with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. Dr. Wallace, let’s jump right into it — strawberries in Texas, who knew?
DR. RUSSEL WALLACE, TEXAS A&M AGRILIFE EXTENSION: We have about 400 acres of strawberries across the state and, of course, Texas is a very big state. So sometimes they’re hard to find.
We are not really in the top 10. As far as states across the U.S., the strawberries that are grown here are very important not only to the growers, but also to the consumers who want fresh, locally grown strawberries.
CURRIE: Let’s talk about this past season. First of all, when do we start strawberry season, and how did we do?
WALLACE: Producers actually start them in the fall. They grow in the fall. They overwinter, because the strawberries need those colder temperatures in order to develop buds and flower. Strawberry season can start as early as January in South Texas or where we’re at up in Lubbock. It’s about April is when we start picking.
The last couple of years we’ve had some issues with freezing temperatures in the early year, and it’s knocked out flowers. It’s burned back some of the plants, and so growers have had a little struggle there in most of our production in the north and east Texas areas.
We’re about average this year in South Texas in the Poteet area just south of San Antonio, where we have a large concentration of strawberry growers. Their season was the shortest on record, because they had about three hard freezes that knocked out their flower production several times and then the high temperatures hit.
Strawberries don’t like it when it gets above 95 degrees, so they stopped flowering. So their season was only about three weeks long.