Ooltewah's Smith-Perry Berries has ripe strawberries ready to eat
Strawberry season has started in the Tennessee Valley.
At Smith-Perry Berries in Ooltewah, they are now picking their strawberries. They first planted them in October, saw those initial blooms in January and February, and now, the delicious fruits of their labor are ready for harvest.
This is the second year that Smith-Perry Berries has grown strawberries with the farm expanding from one acre to three acres this year.
Fortunately, the earlier wet weather this season did not harm the strawberry crop. In fact, there was a benefit.
"We didn't have to irrigate as much, and when we did have to irrigate because we put the fertilizer through the irrigation system. And so, we fertilized really quick because we didn't want to put excess water on them," Aubie Smith, partner in Smith-Perry Berries, said.
High amounts of rain between now and the end of May are not good for the fruit. It will make the berries not as firm.
Smith says this year his team covered the plants as needed once blooming began to protect them from frost, but the uncovering is just as important.
"You don't want to leave the covers on when it is pretty out even if it is going to be cold the next night, so the bees can get to them and pollinate them. Because then you will end up with berries that will still taste good, but they will just look funny," Smith explained.
To help with pollination, they worked with a local beekeeper to bring in beehives.
The results of their efforts can be directly seen and, more importantly, tasted.
"It seems to be even better than last year. We've had our customers tell us that it's got even better flavor than it was last year. They seem to be juicer, a little sweeter," Bill Perry, partner in Smith-Perry Berries, boasted.
READ MORE | Strawberry season comes early to Ooltewah farm
Customers are already stopping by for their berry fix.
"Well, I had been watching it on Facebook. And they were sold out and sold out, and it didn't say sold out today, so I was excited to come get some," customer Donna Lawrence stated excitedly.
Smith-Perry Berries welcomes you to come out, see where your food comes from and support local farmers.
This week they started selling pre-picked buckets of strawberries, and beginning on Saturday, the “you-pick” option will start, where you can pick your own strawberries directly from the field.
For food safety, no pets are allowed in the field for the “you-pick,” and smoking is not permitted.
They hope to have strawberries available all the way through the Saturday before Father's Day.
To check on strawberry availability and pricing, visit Smith-Perry Berries Facebook page.