By Clint Thompson
Excessive rainfall this summer has provided much-needed moisture for North Alabama strawberry producers preparing to plant this year’s crop, says Eric Schavey, Regional Extension agent in Northeast Alabama.
“We’ve got some good moisture now for working ground up and getting ready to lay plastic for strawberries. We’re kind of liking that,” said Schavey, who’s responsible for Blount County, Cherokee County, Cullman County, Dekalb County, Etowah County, Jackson County, Madison County and Marshall County. “In the past, we’ve actually had to run overhead sprinklers or run basically a spray tank with some water in it on the ground to make our beds. We’re actually glad to see some of this moisture at this point in time.”
It has been a saturated summer across the Southeast region. Parts of north Alabama received rainfall from Tropical Storm Ida as it moved through the region. While the wet weather has impacted crop development, it is a blessing for farmers gearing up for their upcoming strawberry plantings.
“Once we get our beds made, that’s all (the water) we need. Then we can turn our drip irrigation on to keep that moisture. If this moisture will hang around another week, two weeks, even if we got a half inch of rain, I think we would still be fine to get our beds made and hit that target planting date of around Oct. 4,” Schavey said.
He noted there are multiple growers with 30,000 to 40,000 plants in his region. It equates to about 8 to 10 acres.