Strawberry season’s sweet start

http://sss-strawberries.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Gallery-SSS-Strawberry-Field.jpg

THE wait is nearly over for the sweet and juicy taste of Bundaberg’s freshest winter treat – strawberries.

Tina McPherson from Tinaberries said they had picked the first red delights of the season at the start of the week.

“They should be in shops really soon, within the end of the week,” she said.

The farm gate, with new EFTPOS facilities, should open on restricted hours within the next two weeks, before opening seven days when the season gets into full swing.

Despite the wet weather and up and down temperatures the region has experienced this year, Mrs McPherson said it did not have much impact on the fruit, except for a delay of about two weeks in planting the crop.

“The berries love cold nights and warm days, so this weather is perfect,” Mrs McPherson said.

Hitting the shops first will be the festival variety of fruit, which comes on first.

“The camarosas, which is about 70% of our crop, we will be harvesting them in about three weeks, around the first week of July,” she said.

“They are our bread and butter, and the trickiest to grow.”

“They are the crème de la crème.”

About 20% of Tinaberries is sold locally to independent retailers and fruit and veg shops, with some going to Rockhampton and the rest going to high-street fruiterers in Victoria.

“When the season is in full flight we deliver to businesses in town on a Friday,” she said.

The Strawbodies in the strawberries scarecrow-making competition will be featured on the farm again, as will the pick your own strawberry session in August or September.

Toan Nguyen, chief financial officer at SSS Strawberries, said the number of plants this year had doubled to 1.6 million, making SSS the largest strawberry producer in the Wide Bay region.

“We have 84 acres, all covered in strawberries.

“We are hoping for 900 tonnes of strawberries this year.”

Mr Nguyen said the wet weather had delayed the start of the season. We couldn’t get in to do the ground work, but we are catching up now.”

“The strawberries are looking good and healthy.”

The Oakwood farm grows two main varieties, festival and newcomer fortuna.

“It is the first time we have grown it (fortuna), it should offer a consistent performance.”

SSS Strawberries are sold across the country, mainly in Melbourne and Sydney and through Woolworths.
Mr Nguyen said they also sold camarosa at the farm gate so Bundaberg residents could enjoy fresh strawberries from the farm.

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This article was written by the NewsMail Bundaberg. http://www.news-mail.com.au/story/2011/06/08/strawberry-seasons-sweet-start/