Markland Brown of Jamaica weeds a row of strawberries at R. Belanger and Sons in Lewiston on Tuesday. Brown, who has been working seasonally for the farm for the past nine years, says this year’s strawberry harvest is a little behind because of the cold weather.

LEWISTON — Most years, strawberry picking is in full swing on the first day of summer.

This year, the berries at Belanger and Sons Farm, Chipman’s in Poland and other farms are still not ripe enough to pick. 

The fields aren’t open — yet.

Maybe next week.

The spring cold and rain is delaying some crops by a few weeks. Though late, farmers said they expect good volumes and quality.

“Now it’s super growing weather,” Ed Jillson of Jillson’s Farm in Sabattus said Tuesday.

After some dry June days, Monday’s rain made “everything extra special this morning,” Jillson said. “Everything is growing real well now. The tomatoes are looking good. The cucumbers have blossomed.”

May was a different story. With too much rain and cold, conditions were challenging.

Jillson’s Farm staff spread rows of clear plastic over plants, which acted as a greenhouse, giving them extra warmth.

Harry Ricker of Ricker Farms in Turner said this spring was “hard on us tractor drivers.” Because of so much rain, “we had to spray more for fungus. It was cold and wet.”

When apple trees stay wet too long, they have to be protected from fungus, he said.

“We had a lot of those days this spring,” Ricker said.

That may mean fewer organic apples later this summer.

June has been better.

Overall, “our apples look very good,” he said. “I’m expecting to have wonderful, juicy apples.”

Rick Kersbergen, an agricultural expert for the University of Maine Extension, said his specialty is hay and corn in Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties.

Like other crops, corn planting was delayed.

“The same was true for hay,” he said. “Ideally, they’re done planting by now. Some still can’t drive on the fields because they’re pretty wet. We’re behind.”


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