Strawberries for Farmers Market & Retail

brgcuviSeptember 10, 2013

Wondering if anyone here has experience growing strawberries to sell at the farmers market? We have a large patch of Everbearing strawberries for personal consumption but are considering putting another patch in for the farmers market.

I prefer Everbearing, as my harvest is spread out over the summer. Any thoughts on Everbearing vs June bearing for retail purposes? Perhaps a specific variety?

Our farmers market is Saturdays only. When in season, we have to pick berries every day. Will they keep ok if refrigerated through the week until Saturday for retail?

Also wondering about selling the runners/crowns in the spring. Not sure if this would be best done in bunches or to pot up?

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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I am interested to hear the responses of how to store berries for the week. Mine get yucky after one day. Maybe if picked under ripe.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 10:45PM
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I had the same thought. I've noticed strawberries that I purchase from the store are often still slightly white and seem to ripen in the fridge. I thought if I picked throughout the week before they were fully ripe it might solve the problem...... not sure though.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2013 at 10:48PM
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we grew june bearers (750 plants) in plastic in a hoophouse and plan to do the same this year. the strawberries have to be picked every other day and kept refrigerated until ready to sell. we picked them ripe but before they got soft directly into quart or pint containers. we grew chandler and sweet charlie. no problem selling out every saturday and had a lot of farm sales.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 4:40AM
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I have grown everbearing strawberries for around 15 years. Of you are selling one day a week they MUST be refrigerated and than they will last 7 to 8 days. I get $3 a pint for mine and generally sell out. my favorite varieties are Albion and Seascape

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 5:17AM
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Maybe I was picking mine (June-bearing, unknown cultivar) too ripe but after a day in the fridge they weren't glossy and pretty any more so I used them for jam and just sold what I picked that day (which wasn't much from 100sf). Maybe it was b/c I didn't have many, or people wanted bigger containers or bigger berries, but conventional grower was selling $6 quarts and I had trouble selling $3 pints. I've sold all but 1 jar of $6 jam though ;-)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 6:42AM
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You have to pick just under-ripe, just barely, to be able to keep. So barely, most people would not notice.

the store berries are picked barely turning, then transported with CO2 to keep the berries fresh (from a strawberry truck driver), plus the temp has to be perfect the entire trip. They want those berries OUT of their truck ASAP.

Most people want to buy quarts or per pound, around here, pints are not the way to go.

The Seascape are a wonderful tasting berry. I've also have Ozark Beauty berries and really loved them.

As far as picking all season, you will get tired of it and customers will also.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 9:19AM
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Well, I have all these pint baskets so maybe next year I'll price them by the pound and just use the baskets to display. Thing is, people don't realize that they're paying $6/lb when they buy a quart basket - and by the time the local berries come in, the grocery stores have dropped their prices to less than half that for the 1-pound clamshells. Maybe "2 (pints) for $6" would sound better?

I agree that part of the allure of local berries is their short season - and the fact that they are picked ripe(r) so aren't hard and hollow.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 10:48AM
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We put 100 Everbearing Seascape in a raised bed this spring that have done really well. I can't believe the size of the berries we've been getting!

We started picking at the end of July but it was just here and there. By mid-August they started (are are still) coming in really heavy.

Once an Everbearing patch is established, when do you start picking pretty good quantities? If not until later in the summer, I'm thinking maybe we should split the patch 1/2 June bearing, 1/2 Everbearing. But, maybe mine didn't start coming in until later because they are first year plants.

Anyone have a supplier they'd recommend for purchasing quart containers? I see them at the farmers market but haven't found a wholesaler.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:11AM
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Anna, check with local packaging suppliers. Shipping can be very expensive and you'll be buying 1,000 at a time.

Sheila, we have the same problem with CA berries being undersold of local berries. Only answer is the educate the customers to the difference of taste/freshness. Also $3 pint or 2/$5.75 works better than the 2/$6. You will have to prove that your berries are better somehow versus your neighbors. Plus if they have been at the market longer, it will be hard, since they have already established themselves.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:33AM
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Does anybody grew Ft. Laramie everbearing strawberries? Are they suitable for market? I just started little patch of those and thinking take runners and produce bigger farmers market patch. Or maybe I should chose different cultivar?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 12:00PM
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Try to have different varieties, making the harvest last longer. Like a Early variety and a Late variety.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 6:41PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Since my comment above I have been picking a little underripe. Funny the experts say to never chill berries but you simply must. I have also wondered if washing in a vinegar solution is better than not washing.
I have Jewel, AC Wendy and Evie 2. The new bed of Evie 2 was not plucked of flowers well this year early on and they still produced heavily later in summer up to now. I suspect getting a quart or two still this week.
I am still going to take the babies off the 2012 planted June bearers and renovate the bed. Wish me luck!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2013 at 10:04PM
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This past Spring I ordered two new cultivars - one of which is 'Diamante' the other one I'll have to dig out of my records. We had a mild summer and both of those have produced berries all summer long. They weren't the best berries I've ever tasted but they definitely made a decent crop of top sized fruit. Now I want to rip out all my 'Chandler' and switch to newer varieties.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 10:17AM
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I've never picked the blossom, just plant and let the plants do their thing. Most times, we didn't even mulch, but we don't have as severe winters as some. The healthy ones survive and the less healthy don't. Of course, we don't buy varieties that aren't cold hardy to our climate.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 1:39PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I transplanted a bed worth of strawberry babies, June bearing, today into a cleared out bed. There are still tons of babies in the original bed but I guess I will just ignore that and renovate them as planned on Friday. I sure hope the babies survive.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2013 at 7:42PM
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A rinse in 2 Tbs. vinegar to a gallon of water works wonders for longer keeping in the frig. I automatically do this to all berries I buy in the grocery store and it definitely lengthens the times they stay fresh.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 10:02AM
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