Louisiana State Universitys Agricultural Center says Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival patrons should anticipate fewer berries at this weekends festivities. Fewer berries mean higher prices, too (typical $14 berry planks could be pricier), but blame the weather. Damp and cold conditions may have slumped the harvest, but the saved berries should still be of the same high quality one would normally expect from our Tangipahoa neighbors.
The report says growers lost about 80 percent of their crop from two pickings during recent wet weather. But Dr. Regina Bracy, resident coordinator at the LSU AgCenters Hammond Research Station, says in the report that farmers say the berries are still worth the price."
The growers Ive talked to say they are seeing some berries that are bruised, discolored and having some cracks as a result of the weather conditions, Bracy said.
She explained growers normally use row covers to protect the berries from cold weather, but they didnt with the recent rains because if the rows stay wet for any length of time, growers may save berries from rain damage but lose them to disease.
Now the good news: The city of Ponchatoula opens its arms to the rest of us for the weekend for its annual fest. Expect strawberry-flavored everything in the hands of passers-by, from Abitas beautiful spring brew Strawberry Harvest lager, to Jell-O shots and daiquiris, and hopefully, all the berries you can eat (chocolate-dipped or no).
More carnival than Carnival (with funnel cakes and The Zipper), the festival has more local music and entertainment than you can shake a gator-on-a-stick at. Its the ultimate staycation roadtrip for Louisianans come Spring Break, where farmers are loyalty and red is right.