“Hang in there guys,” is all the answer Arlington’s Biringer Farms can give callers looking for information regarding the farm’s regular June staple crop: strawberries.
Record low temperatures, heavy rains and few sunny days have left local berry farmers literally out in the cold. The region’s berry crop is already weeks late, and most farms can’t open for their usual business until it arrives.
“We’re sort of crossing our fingers for some real sunshine soon,” says Janet Stocker of Snohomish-based Stocker Farms, where the strawberries are still green. Usually by now they are not only red, but all ready for serving with whipped cream and sponge cake. “We’re already worried. There’s always the possibility the fruit will rot on the vine with the cold and the wet.”
It doesn’t take a psychic to know that the same thought is on the minds of every one of Stocker’s fellow farmers. Dues Berry Farm in Marysville, where the city's 77th annual Strawberry Festival will go ahead this weekend "rain or shine, berries or no berries" according to festival organizers, says openly that their berries need at least one week of good sunshine before they are ready.
With most forecasts predicting Sunday as the only warm, sunny day for at least the next week, those averse to their children hearing swear words might want to keep out of rural areas as June goes on. No wonder too – with berry farming there really can be no good Plan B.
Maria Breneman of Kent’s T&M Berries says it with succinct eloquence: “If it doesn’t work out, then we’re stuck.”
Like a baseball team that can’t shake a lousy spring (draw any parallels yourself) the only option may be to look ahead to the next chance for glory.