Farmers Project Short, But Sweet, Strawberry Season

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Strawberries, juicy and field ripened, are one of those much-awaited treats to kick off summer.

But those planning to head to the local fields or farm markets for those bite-sized sweet and tangy fruits better not wait too long this year and better bring along some additional cash.

“If you want strawberries, we’re in the heart of strawberry season right now,” said Megan Molnar, co-owner of Molnar Farms.

How long that season lasts depends on the weather. Molnar said the heat brings all the strawberries on at once, but also shortens the season.

Debbie Pifer, owner of White House Fruit Farm on U.S. Route 62 near Canfield Road, said with the heat wave that swept through the Mahoning Valley this week, the strawberries may not last until the end of the month as they had hoped.

“When they are in season, you’ve got to do it now,” Pifer said. “Time is of the essence with most produce. The quality is good now.”

Similar to so many businesses this year, the cost of growing, harvesting and packaging strawberries has risen, leading to at least a small price hike for consumers. Both Molnar Farms on East Western Reserve Road, Poland, and White House Fruit Farms have had to increase prices a bit this year.

Both places are charging $6.50 per quart in the store, and $4.50 per quart or $18 per four-quart basket when you pick them yourself.

“Our expenses have gone up significantly,” said Megan Molnar, one of the owners of the family business. “We’re trying to be reasonable.”

For Stephanie Rosselli of Poland, a customer at Molnar Farms this week, there is nothing like the taste of fresh picked berries and the convenience of getting them at a local farm market operation. She and her husband, Gene Grupp were at the market picking out pints of ripe berries this week.

“We love that they are open until 6 p.m. and that I can come pick at 7:30 a.m.,” said Rosselli, a self-prescribed morning person. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Rosselli adds the “sweetness is so special” from those berries picked fresh from the field.

For those planning to pick strawberries themselves from White House Fruit Farm, there are currently five acres of the juicy berries at a field near 8652 Leffingwell Road. The berries can be picked between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. weekdays, but only cash can be accepted in the field.

Berries are also available in the White House Fruit Farm market, which is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday.

Those wanting to pick at Molnar Farms can find the field near the market open between 7:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., Saturday. The market is currently open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Strawberries are one of the first awaited crops of the summer months and really kick off the growing season, Molnar said. The strawberry season soon will be gone, but quickly followed by sweet corn, hopefully in early July, as well as tomatoes, peppers and peaches.

Pictured: Stephanie Rosselli and her husband Gene Grupp shop for fresh strawberries and other produce at Molnar Farms.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.