The official start of summer is around the corner, and last week’s heat wave has pushed the farm’s strawberry plants into peak production. Once these berries ripen they only last for a couple of days on the plant, which gives us a very short time window to enjoy one of the juiciest fruits of the New England summer. So how do farmers maximize the harvest on a crop with such a short season? The answer is diversity.
At Jones Family Farms we plant more than one type of strawberry – in fact, we grow 6 varieties. Through years of trial and error, taste tests, and growing experiments, the Jones farmers have chosen varieties packed with flavor that ripen at different times during the month of June. Over the 15 acres of strawberry fields on our farm we have planted our selected varieties: All Star, Cavendish, Darselect, Eros, Kent, and Early Glow. One of the first varieties to ripen in early June is called Early Glow, while the deep red Eros berries are ready for harvest towards the end of the season.
The farmers might purposefully plant different varieties for a better harvest, but the strawberry plants themselves also help the process along. On each plant, the first spring blossoms will produce the earliest berries (and usually the biggest fruit). Blossoms that open later in the spring will ripen later, and these smaller berries are often packed with intense flavor. Throughout much of the season, a single strawberry plant will often have both red and green berries growing at the same time!
Now that we have reached peak season, the strawberry plants have kicked into overdrive and the fields are covered with ripe fruit. We’re working hard to pick as many berries as we can during this brief but bountiful harvest. Maybe that’s why everyone loves fresh strawberries so much – we enjoy their sweetness at the start of every summer, then spend the next 11 months looking forward to a new harvest!