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Midgic strawberry farm’s season will be short and sweet this year

Titus and Charlie Hicks pick some of the ripe and juicy strawberries at their family’s u-pick operation on Goose Lake Road in Midgic. The season is starting late this year due to severe spring frosts.
Titus and Charlie Hicks pick some of the ripe and juicy strawberries at their family’s u-pick operation on Goose Lake Road in Midgic. The season is starting late this year due to severe spring frosts. - Katie Tower

Spring frosts impact crops at local operation

MIDGIC, N.B. – Local strawberries are now ripe for the picking but don’t expect to see a bountiful crop this summer.

Tracey Hicks, who owns Hicks Berry Patch in Midgic along with her husband Maurice, said this is the worst strawberry season they’ve faced since opening up their operation six years ago. To blame? The weather, of course.

“It’s all up to Mother Nature, we’re at her beck and call,” said Hicks while strolling through her strawberry fields last Thursday afternoon.

Hicks estimates their crops are down at least 60 to 70 per cent this year, with many of the plants destroyed by frost damage during the cold and clear nights that abounded in May and June.

Titus and Charlie Hicks pick some of the ripe and juicy strawberries at their family’s u-pick operation on Goose Lake Road in Midgic. The season is starting late this year due to severe spring frosts.
Titus and Charlie Hicks pick some of the ripe and juicy strawberries at their family’s u-pick operation on Goose Lake Road in Midgic. The season is starting late this year due to severe spring frosts.

When the frost hit, Hicks said their early varieties of strawberries were already blooming and there was nothing that could be done to save them. They don’t have an irrigation system like some of the larger fruit growers so they knew the damage would be severe.

“The blossoms were open and the frost killed them.”

The loss of those plants only added to a season that had already fell prey to Mother Nature. The Hicks’ had discovered earlier this year that about a third of their plants had been damaged by “winter injury.”

Hicks said this was a result of a lack of snow cover throughout the winter months that would typically keep the strawberries protected from the cold temperatures.

Although the plants were blanketed with straw, Hicks said that simply didn’t provide enough protection through the constant “thaw and freeze” weather that hit the region this past winter.

Hicks said the two varieties of strawberries that suffered the winter injury are less tolerable to the cold than some of the other plants so they simply didn’t survive.

“So that doesn’t leave much left.”

But with the weather finally heating back up and summer seemingly back on track, Hicks says she is finally getting set to open up the fields to customers this week.

And while she says there will likely be enough berries to satisfy the u-pickers this season, the Hicks’ have decided they won’t be taking orders for pre-picked strawberries or selling from the building this season due to the volume being down.

“There’s just not enough this year to do both,” she says. “We can only make due with what we have.”

Hicks said with such a late start this year, the season will be shorter than usual so pickers are encouraged not to wait too long.

She is optimistic next year will see better days - with a new field planted just this past spring in preparation for next season at the Hicks’ strawberry farm, she is hopeful the weather will be a little more favourable this winter and next spring.

To find out if Hicks’ Berry Patch U-Pick is open each day, check out their Facebook page or call 536-4593.

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