Weather brings challenges for farmers

Johanna Lieber, left, and her son Isaac pick strawberries at Pellegrini’s Strawberry Farm Thursday morning. While rainy, cool weather has created some problems for local strawberry farmers this year, business has been strong this summer. (Daily Press photo by Jordan Beck)

ESCANABA — Though rainy, cool weather has created some problems for local strawberry farmers in 2017, business has been booming at farms this summer.

At Pellegrini’s Strawberry Farm, located west of Escanaba, this spring’s weather resulted in a smaller strawberry crop than normal.

“The weather conditions this spring for our strawberry farm (have) been challenging and (have) affected the yield,” the farm’s owner David Pellegrini said. He noted excessive rainfall can create flooding issues and can make plants more susceptible to diseases.

Kelsey Motto, who Pellegrini described as a “long-time employee” of the farm, agreed with the statement.

“Obviously, with the weather, it’s just been a little bit different this year,” she said.

According to Pellegrini, crops other than strawberries have been affected by these conditions, as well.

“This is a crazy spring for farmers in general,” he said.

Pellegrini said he is hopeful that less rain will be seen in the area in the spring of 2018.

“We would look forward to some drier conditions that would be more conducive to healthier (plants),” he said.

Pellegrini’s Strawberry Farm officially opened for berry picking on July 1. Motto said this was not unusual — they normally open the farm within a week of Independence Day.

“It was about the same time,” she said. The farm is expected to remain open for berry picking for roughly another week.

Pellegrini said business at the farm this year has been consistently strong since they opened.

“There’s definitely a demand for the berries,” he said.

Motto said despite the impact that rain has had on the farm’s operations, the strawberries that have been picked at Pellegrini’s this year have been high-quality.

“All the berries that I’ve seen come in are beautiful, and they taste really good, too,” Motto said.

However, as their strawberry yield for 2017 is relatively small, Pellegrini said that people interested in picking berries at his farm should do so as soon as possible.

“Get your berries as soon as you can,” he said.

At Gladstone Berry Farm, recent weather conditions have had a different type of impact. Parker Grzybowski, son of owner Michael Grzybowski, said the rain seen in the area this spring has not affected the farm’s strawberry yield as much as he expected it to.

“It’s gone surprisingly well, with how much rain we had,” he said.

However, these conditions did keep the Grzybowski family from opening their farm for berry picking as early as they did in 2016. This year, the farm opened on June 26.

“It’s a little later this year, just because of the cold,” Grzybowski said. He noted the farm will likely remain open for berry picking for another week or two.

Grzybowski said business at Gladstone Berry Farm has been strong this season. He thanked the farm’s customers for coming out to pick strawberries despite the recent rainfall in the area.