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Wet June Causing Poor Growing Conditions On Long Island Strawberry Farms

Local Farmers Are Saying Enough Is Enough, Bring Back The Sun

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NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — The Tri-State Area is on pace for its wettest June ever, and while local crops need rain to grow some farmers have said enough is enough.

June is the peak season for strawberries on eastern Long Island, but farmers said that this month has been more like November.

“Strawberries sit on the ground and possibly rot. It creates all kinds of fungus issues, just yuck growing conditions,”  Joseph Gergela said.

Gergela is the head of Long Island’s Farm Bureau. He told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff on Friday that this month’s rain has been too much of a good thing. The North Fork has gotten three times its average amount of rain fall this month. While the rain has produced big, beautiful berries, farmers said they need the sun for sweetness.

“I’m just hoping this clears up and we get back to normal June weather,” Riverhead farmer Richard Anderson said.

The rain, however, has not affected strawberry supplies on supermarket shelves. Most of those come from Florida and California, but it has affected the livelihood of Long Island farmers who count on the month of June for “you-pick” customers.

Anderson and organizers of the Mattituck Strawberry Festival are hoping that the sun will bring back the crowds.

“We have chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry shortcake, strawberry daiquiris,” George Lessard told CBS 2.

Organizers said that the strawberries picked for this year’s festival are good, but that the ones left in the fields could soon rot.

The wet June weather is expected to have a ripple effect. Farmers have not been able to plant July’s corn, melons, and tomatoes. However, the soaking rains could produce stellar, late summer, wine grapes.

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