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New season of strawberries in full swing
For strawberry lovers, it’s a beautiful sight: a field of hulking red berries clinging to bright green plants, with pickers trying to keep up with demand.
It’s strawberry season at Richmond Country Farms—and it’s nearly September.
This year the longtime Steveston Highway farm began growing everbearing strawberries, eschewing the widely known varieties that bear fruit in June.
Richmond Country Farms’ new variety, the Albion, slowly started coming off the pesticide-free fields in July and is now in full production on the farm’s five acres.
“It ramped up slowly up until now, and hopefully it’ll keep producing like this,” said farmer Lucas Hogler from the field Tuesday. “It looks like the size and appearance of a California berry, but the taste is like a local.”
His dad Harry Hogler grew June-bearing strawberries for 50 years before giving up on the finicky fruit several years ago. It seemed that just before harvest each year, rain, hail or a plant virus would ruin the crop.
Now they’re back in production with the everbearing plant, which continues to produce sweet fruit until the fall frost. It is, however, a more labour intensive crop, and everbearing plants have a shorter lifespan than traditional varieties.
But a longer growing season—and the possibility of local greenhouses competing with California in winter—are enough for some farmers to make the change.
“A lot of people are starting to switch over to this style of strawberry,” said Lucas Hogler. “I think it’s going to open up the market. Local growers will be competing a bit more with the California berries.”
Richmond’s Birak Berry Farm also grows everbearing strawberries, which are available for U-pick at 4200 No. 6 Rd. Some of Richmond's other small farms stock them as well.