Weird Weather Affects Berry Crops

Mild winter, wet spring playing with farmers' fruit crops.

This is not going to be the year of the strawberry.

A mild winter with little rain and multiple temperature changes -- weather shifts that are continuing into a mild-then-wet-then-warm April -- will affect the Bay Area's crop of summer fruits such as blackberries and boysenberries, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Fruit stands and U-Pick farms are more than a welcome weekend diversion: they're big business. And Mother Nature isn't being good for business this year.

Plants are flowering all at once. The winter was not wet enough, and now too-cold temperatures -- it must be at least 40 degrees overnight to get early spring fruits like cherries ready for May harvest -- are also having an effect, the newspaper reported.

Frost causes berries to freeze, go soft and "go bad," farmer Rita Hipolito of Berry Best told the newspaper.

For now, wet weather is welcome in most parts of easter Contra Costa County, the newspaper reported. That means more water for farmers who have had trouble getting water from low-lying sloughs.

Most farmers plan to have their summertime farm stands open by Memorial Day, with crops harvested by early June.

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