Gilroy farm gearing up for strawberry picking season after delay due to winter storms

Lauren Martinez Image
Friday, April 28, 2023
Strawberry picking season days away for Gilroy farm
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Gilroy's Berry Island Farms gearing up to open to public for strawberry picking season after delay due to winter storms.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- After weeks of delay from record rain, a "pick-your-own" strawberry farm in Gilroy is just days away from opening.

Berry Island Farms off Watsonville Road in Gilroy grows a variety of fruits, vegetables, honey and more. Their biggest seller is strawberries.

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Farm owner Ronald Welten says they're three weeks behind in their "U-pick" season that's open to the public.

"In a normal season, we would start in mid-April. Unfortunately due to the cold and wet spring, we're basically delayed by three weeks," Welten said.

Back-to-back storms pushed strawberry season out and delayed the re-planting of others.

"Since we haven't been able to get in the fields since last December, we weren't able to plant any spring crops. I mean normally I would have cabbage, I would have some lettuce, carrots. But we haven't been able to plant anything at all. We're basically going straight from winter to summer," Welten said.

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Now with the warmer weather, their first berries are turning red.

"Yeah I consider myself lucky that we're standing here and we've got strawberries ready to be picked soon," Welten said.

90% of the business is a "U-pick" farm open to the public, the remaining 10% comes from purchases from local restaurants.

"The modern strawberry varieties are made for 'shelf life' basically and when you breed a strawberry for shelf life you're compromising for flavor. We don't care that much about shelf life because this is all direct marketing so we totally focus on flavor," Welten said.

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Despite the three weeks of the farm losing out on picking, Welten doesn't plan on increasing prices. One pound of berries will remain $5.

"We're trying to keep the same prices as we did last year. On the longer term I don't know yet," Welten said.

Welten is working with the USDA to get compensated for the damage his farm did ensure from the storm. He's ball parking around 10%.

Despite the anxiety-driven season it's been he's excited to welcome people back to the farm.

Berry Island Farms will hold their season opener on Saturday, May 6 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

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