There will be strawberries -- but you'll have to wait a while

News-DemocratMay 6, 2014 

Local growers are seeing blooms, but no strawberries, yet.

Usually growers are picking strawberries by Mother's Day. But this year, it may be Memorial Day before that happens.

Vince Demange Sr., of Demange Farm outside of Belleville, said the recent winter has delayed the annual strawberry harvest at his patch.

"There are no ripe berries, yet," Demange said. "It looks like maybe two weeks, I'm just guessing. They're behind schedule. We had too much cold weather, too much frost and freeze. We had it all. So it will be approximately two weeks."

In Millstadt, Jean Hoeffken also said there are nothing but blooms on the plants at Scharf Farm.

"We should start having them in the next week, week and a half," Hoeffken said.

According to a telephone recording at Donahue's Sunshine Farms in Collinsville, the strawberry crop "will be late this year." Customers are asked to call back around May 15 for "further updates."

A year ago, local strawberry growers also had to wait at least a couple of weeks later than usual when excessive rainfall and cooler-than-usual weather during the spring delayed the harvest. In 2012, the spring was unseasonably warm and lead to an early strawberry crop throughout the region.

According to the University of Illinois Extension Office, strawberries are grown at 26 farms throughout Illinois. Commercial farms in St. Clair and Madison counties include:

* Eckert's Orchards at 951 S. Green Mount Road in Belleville (618-233-0513)

* Scharf Farm at 8132 Illinois 163 in Millstadt (618-538-5698)

* Troy/O'Fallon Strawberries at 1230 Troy Scott Road in Lebanon (618-406-3263)

*Donahue's Sunshine Farms at 3540 Fairmont Ave. in Collinsville (618-345-0766)

* Demange Farm at 10349 W. Astor Road in St. Jacob (618-644-9218)

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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