PORTLAND, Tenn. - A combination of constant heavy rain and late season spring freezes has put many strawberry farmers in Middle Tennessee weeks behind schedule, and the unfavorable growing conditions have been attributed to some farmers losing close to 30 percent of their crops.
While strawberries are mostly made up of water, too much rain can cause them to rot. Especially when the ground is constantly saturated, as has been the case over the last month -- a result of near-weekly heavy rain that has left many farm fields water logged.
Abnormal spring freezes have also been problematic.
“We had three hard freezes up here and that destroyed a lot of strawberries. The first frost is not too bad but you have two or three in a row and that’s what hurts,” says former strawberry farmer Wayne England.
Until last year, Wayne had been growing strawberries on his farm here since 1976. But back-to-back years of unfavorable growing conditions and a lack of laborers willing to pick forced him to close down his beloved farm.
“It was a hard decision. But if you can’t harvest your crop you have to get out,” he added.
In Portland, the 77th annual Strawberry Festival will only have two strawberry vendors this year as a result. Although organizers say close to 125 vendors will still be in attendance for weekend festivities.