THURSDAY: Sunny. Morning wind chills to -10. High: 19. Winds: Northwest 5-10 mph.
THURSDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Low: 5. Wind chills 0 to -10. Winds: Light Northwest, shifting to the south overnight.
Backwoods Berry Farm Prepares for Growing Season
For nearly twenty years, the folks at Backwoods Berry Farm have been growing strawberries.
Now that spring is finally here, there is plenty of work to be done on the berry farm.
Beneath all this straw are strawberry plants waiting to be uncovered for spring.
"Cover them up and put them to bed. And the reason we cover them up....it takes about 600 bales of straw to cover our entire patch. It takes us about two days to get the job accomplished," said Dale Conrady, Partner of Backwoods Berry Farm.
But strawberries are just one of several specialty crops grown at Backwoods Berry Farm in Hettick.
"We start with asparagus in late April, we go right into strawberry season and that follows with blueberry season then blackberry season and peach season," said Becky Conrady, Partner at Backwoods Berry Farm.
Which keeps the Conradys busy all year.
"It's just about year-round management. We got all the pruning to do. We got about 25 hundred blueberry plants we gotta get through and about 200 blackberry plants and 300 peach trees so pretty much end of February through April is nothing but pruning," Dale Conrady said.
The Conrady's opened Backwoods Berry Farm back in 1994.
"After just our very first season of strawberries, we knew we had a good chance. We were completely picked-out and bowled over by the response so we knew right then we had the possibility of a good business here," said Becky Conrady.
And they were right.
What started as just two acres of strawberries turned into twelve acres of various specialty crops.
"We never really expected it to get this big. I mean most of the experts gave us a life expectancy of about three or four years. Here we have been doing it 20," said Dale Conrady.
"Loving what you do. Producing a quality crop. The interaction with the customers," Dale Conrady said.
Just like any farm, growing specialty crops can be challenging, especially when mother nature doesn't cooperate.
The conrady's crops are still showing damage from Summer 2012.
"The extremely high heat. The 108, 109 degrees really took its toll. We actually had trees burn. We probably lost close to 200 blueberry bushes, because of the excessive heat," said Dale Conrady.
And the cold winter will make for a late spring.
"And of course that makes for late production, late harvest, so whereas we would normally have strawberries in mid-may, i'm sure it will be late may before our strawberries are ready," Becky Conrady said.
But when they are ready, the Conradys will know..
"Rule of thumb is don't uncover them until the dandelions bloom."
Wednesday, April 23 2014, 11:23 AM CDT