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Weather is No Obstacle for Haus Strawberry Crop

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CANFIELD, Ohio – Cool weather may have slowed down the ripening of strawberry crops in early June at Haus Orchard & Cider Mill, but it hasn’t damaged them.

Right now, we’re looking to have a pretty good crop of everything,” says Cheryl Haus, co-owner of the cider mill at 6742 West Calla Road. “It’s been a little strange year as far as the weather goes but it hasn’t hurt anything.”

As the weather begins to warm up, the 2-1/2 acres of strawberries that Haus grows will ripen pretty quickly, she says.

Haus Orchard & Cider Mill is a second-generation farm and market owned by Cheryl and her husband Matt, open from May to January every year. Matt’s parents, Matt and Edith Haus, opened it in 1954.

Haus’ summer strawberry crop, about 10,000 pounds of berries, ripens in June. However, with the fluctuation in weather this year, Haus says a heat wave will push the crop to produce faster so that it might not last until the end of the month.

The secret to Haus’ strawberry crop success remains in the ingredients that never seem to change.

You have to have three ingredients for a strawberry crop: the berries, people who can pick them and the customers,” she says.

Besides those three ingredients, there is the routine work that needs done every year to continue the strawberry crop success.

It’s not just a backyard garden,” Haus says, “there’s a lot to it.”

The mill plants strawberries in May and then weeds them by hand for about a year until they are ready to be picked. After the crop is done, Haus gets rid of the weeds again, renovates the strawberry plants and gets them ready for the following year. Plants are kept for five or six years, she adds.

Pesticide and fungicide use is limited on the plants but is sometimes needed to get rid of slugs and sap beetles.

We’re just like everyone else, we don’t want them [pesticides] on there if we don’t have to,” Haus says.

A variety of strawberries are planted to make sure they always have some ready, since the plants ripen at different times throughout June. Among the crop at Haus Cider Mill are Early Glow, Record, Cabot, Jewel and Darselect. The flavor of the strawberry, bitter or sweet, doesn’t depend on the variety as much as it does on the amount of sun it gets.

If we have a nice sunny day they seem to get sweeter,” Haus says.

The farm has a selection to fit both tastes. The smaller, deep red berries are the sweeter ones and bigger, light red ones are more bitter, says Haus.

The cider mill offers pick-your-own strawberries from 8 a.m. to noon daily, but Haus suggests to call ahead of time because the crop changes from day to day and there’s not always enough for customers to pick themselves. The orchard also delivers strawberries to local markets every morning. And through the Haus Cider Mill store, baked goods made with the fresh crop are also available.

When things are in season that’s when we use them,” she says. Some of her favorites are strawberry jelly, strawberry margarita jam, biscotti, sweet breads and strawberry rhubarb pies.

But still, “a majority of people just like to eat them fresh,” she says.

The cider mill ships in some fruits such as lemons that typically can’t be grown in Ohio, but everything else is either grown on the farm or bought locally. The next crop of fruit, red raspberries, will be ready towards the end of June, followed by blueberries in mid-July and peaches that last until September.

Next to strawberries, Haus Cider Mill’s busiest season is apple season starting in mid-July and lasting all the way until January.

Haus’ main business is making apple cider from a Farquar Cider Press built in 1940. Right around the weekend of the Canfield Fair in late August, Haus starts making apple cider a couple times a week. Once mid-September hits, the farm presses apples for cider daily until mid-January. Some of the cider is then frozen for the summer months so that customers can enjoy it during off-season too.

We make quit a bit of cider,” says Haus with a laugh. ”We try to make apple cider as sweet and as good as we can. We’ve been doing it for 60 years so we know what to do.”

When apples are in-season, the orchard delivers their cider to local wineries, Giant Eagles, Rulli Bros. and Nemenz IGA while also selling their 30 varieties in their on-site market. In addition, the orchard makes and sells products with their own apples such as apple butter (made without any added sugar), apple cider slushy, doughnuts, applesauce, jam, vinegar and pies.

I do frozen pies for people so that they get to take them home and bake them themselves,” Haus adds.

Haus says customers keep coming back because “We give them a good product and they enjoy it.” She never wants the business to get huge but to maintain the status quo.

When you’re in farming, it is just something that you do,” she says. “You love it, you continue to do it and it’s a good place to raise your kids. We enjoy what we’re doing and I think people are happy to get fresh fruit from the farm.”

Pictured: Cheryl Haus, co-owner, of Haus Orchard & Cider Mill.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.