Has too much rain put a damper on strawberry crops? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Has too much rain put a damper on strawberry crops?

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DAYTON, TN (WRCB) -- The streets of downtown Dayton were in full festival mode Friday for the 66th annual Tennessee Strawberry Festival.

Whether you like your strawberries spooned onto a cake, dipped in chocolate, or straight out of the carton, the weather helped draw a good crowd.

"The wind's blowing, it's cool. It makes it real nice," said Rowe Royer. She drove from Chattanooga to attend.

But with rainfall this year around 12 inches above normal have crops suffered? Will the berries run out before the festival ends?

"Oh, I hope that doesn't happen," said Royer. "I hadn't thought about it. I won't worry, though."

Neither will festival coordinator and Chamber of Commerce president Vaughn Berger.

"We had concerns about that," admitted Berger. "I'm watching people right now walk by with flats of strawberries and so I think we're going to have plenty for the festival this weekend."

But Tidwell's Berry Farm, the main supplier, has been unable to pick from half of its 16 acres this season. It's not because of the excessive rain but rather too many cool nights. The berries are taking longer than usual to ripen.

This means supplies are down, but the berries end up tasting even better.

"Everybody who's tried one has really like it," said Tim Cruver, owner of The General Store.

He quickly sold two-thirds of his Friday pick before noon, limiting samples to just one per person. And with some more rain expected this weekend he hopes the star of the festival won't run out.

"If they can actually pick strawberries tomorrow. It may be that we might be a little shy," explained Cruver.

And although Tidwell's is the big name, Berger said other farms whose crops haven't suffered as much are available for back-up. But the overall smaller supply won't last long.

"You better hurry and get your strawberries while you can," urged Royer.

Tidwell's said it should be able to begin picking from the remaining acreage shortly after the festival ends.

Saturday's parade in downtown Dayton is set for one o'clock in the afternoon, rain or shine.

Berger says if storms develop during the parade, people can seek shelter in the courthouse or open businesses along the route.

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