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Strawberries in season at Jaemor
Brandon Crumley places two more baskets filled with strawberries on a trailer in the strawberry fields Monday afternoon at Jaemor Farms. Recent heavy rainfall has made the field roads soggy so crews have to rely on tractors to move the produce out of the fields.

Strawberries are ripe for the picking, if you can make your way to them through the mud and saturated ground.

“We’re in full swing,” said Drew Echols, manager of Jaemor Farms, 5340 Ga. 365, near Lula. “This rain is hampering things a little bit, but not too badly. Unless it’s pouring down rain, our crews are picking every day.”

Workers at the produce farm and roadside market are gathering some 400-500 gallons per day off 12-plus acres devoted to the plump, juicy fruit.

“The flavor’s good and the quality has been better, but it’s just due to rain,” Echols said. “So, we’re good — we’re blessed so far.

“From what I’ve heard from other areas of the state, we’re doing pretty well.”

Customers are snapping them up, too, at least the ones braving the recent spate of wet weather to reach the hilltop store, he added.

“The weather not only hampers harvesting, but it does slow the market down,” Echols said. “People just don’t travel and get out as much.”

Michael Wheeler, Hall County extension coordinator, said that cool weather in general has “slowed some growth” in the area’s strawberry crop.

But recent chilly overnight dips in temperature haven’t had a huge impact.

“Strawberries like cooler springs,” Wheeler said. “Eventually, (plants) stop producing because it gets hot, when we get into June or so. That’s why strawberry season seems relatively short.”

Rain, including the nearly 4 inches that fell in Gainesville between Thursday and Sunday, is another matter.

“We do see some increased disease pressure,” Wheeler said.

He said Jaemor workers are “doing anything they can to get the moisture off the plants as soon as possible and harvesting regularly so there’s no berries out there to get infected.”