FARMINGTON — Gray skies hovered over row after row of wet plants loaded
with a prime crop. The intermittent rain on Tuesday didn’t stop a few
hardy strawberry pickers.

“We’re trying to plan for this winter,” said Sue Jones. She, along
with Roxanna Decker and their children from Kingfield, was quickly
filling boxes of strawberries in David Pike’s pick-your-own fields.  “A
small bag of strawberries in the store next winter is $10,” Jones said.
“With this economy, we’re all trying to save, so we’re going to freeze
these.”

The women plan to pick and freeze their own raspberries and blueberries this year.

“Winter is coming, no matter what the summer is like,” Jones said.

The strawberries are large, red, plentiful and reportedly delicious, but Pike isn’t having a great season.

“I’ll probably lose most of the crop,” he said. “This is prime picking.
Usually, I’d have 100 cars here. This morning I have six.”

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The fields haven’t dried out in the past three weeks. Strawberries
can withstand a few hours of rain, but they need to dry out and that’s
not happening, he said.  

Pike started selling strawberries on Route 2 days ago but only
opened the fields to the public last Thursday. Other crops are slow but
doing well, he said.

“The peas are great if they don’t rot at the base,” he said. “The
corn is slow. It probably won’t be knee-high by the fourth of July. It
needs some higher degree days.”

Even before the wet weather, Pike adjusted the price of
pick-your-own strawberries, he said.  Because of the economy, he
reduced the price to what it was three years ago.  

“Despite the fact my costs have risen, I based the cost on the
economy,” he said. “People have no idea how expensive it is to grow
strawberries. I always say the first quart costs me $30,000.”

He also adjusted the hours the field is open to accommodate people
who work. He opens the fields from 7 to 11:30 a.m. and from 4 to 7:30
p.m. 

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The fields are full right now and this is the prime picking time, he
said.  After this, there will be a second and third harvest but the
berries become smaller and it’s harder picking, he said. It’s going to
be a short season.

They need more sun and heat but the worst that could happen would be
for temperatures to rise to 95 degrees. That would make the berries
soft, he said.

Despite the lack of sun, the strawberries are ripening and are as tasty
as ever, as more than one picker said. Some came prepared with boots
and raincoats; others braved the wet rows to pick the raised berries.

“The picking is excellent,” said Lori Burgess of Phillips, who along
with her children Noah, Genevieve and Skyela was quickly filling a
cardboard flat.

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Fields ripe for picking 

Desitney Decker, Roxanne Decker and Megan Howell, all of Kingfield, pick and fill a cardboard flat with strawberries Tuesday in David Pike’s fields in Farmington.

Desitney Decker, Roxanne Decker and Megan Howell, all of Kingfield, pick strawberries Tuesday in David Pike’s fields in Farmington despite the gray skies and showers.

There’re tons of strawberries in David Pike’s fields in Farmington but only a few pickers braved the weather Tuesday to enjoy the prime picking.


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