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June Rain Ripened Vermont Strawberries, But Now Some Fear Moldy Crops

Melody Bodette
The strawberry crop is nearing its peak at Norris Berry Farm in Monkton. The rainy weather has ripened the berries, but created a challenge for organic berry growers who now fear mold growth on the fruit.

Vermont strawberry growers say despite the rainy weather in the month of June, it's been a good year for the crop.

Norma Norris grows 5 acres of strawberries at her farm in Monkton. She says the season is nearing its peak and there are a lot of ripe berries in the fields.

"The berries need a lot of water and now that it’s drying out we’ll get people to come this weekend and it will be great,” she said, adding that the danger now is if customers don’t come to pick, the fruit will spoil in the fields. But with sunny weather in the forecast, she expects families to come to pick berries, and said the season should last for a few more weeks.

Credit Melody Bodette / VPR
With sunny weather in the forecast, Norma Norris or Norris Berry Farm expects families to come to pick berries, and says the season should last for a few more weeks.

The rainy weather creates different challenges for organic berry growers. At Adam's Berry Farm in Charlotte, Adam Hausmann says he also has a decent crop of berries. But the 15 inches of rain that have fallen this month have forced him to shift to a labor-intensive management program to prevent mold growth.

His crew also watches the weather forecast and gets any ripe berries out of the field before it rains. “After it rains we’re going through and picking berries that are rain-damaged or rotten berries. Because once the mold starts, it spreads rapidly,” Hausmann said.

Hausmann said on rainy years like this, his farm focuses on selling fruit to restaurants and stores, as well as freezing lots of berries, and does not open for pick-your-own.

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