Texas Neighbors Spring 2016 : Page 12


Strawberries Satisfy Texas' Sweet Tooth

Jessica Domel

Red, juicy and tantalizingly sweet. This year’s Texas strawberries are sure to knock fruit lovers right off their feet.

Each year, fruit growers like Cora Lamar of Jourdanton pour their heart and soul into Texas strawberries, growing some of the sweetest berries around.

Strawberries from Lamar’s Oak Hill Farms are so popular, they’re now used in H-E-B’s Creamy Creations Texas Seasons Poteet Strawberry ice cream.

Poteet strawberry fans wait year-round for the tasty fruit to reappear on stands and in stores. Harvest usually begins the last week of February and continues through early March.

“Normal harvest is about two-and-a-half months because by June it gets too hot and the plants quit producing good, marketable berries,” Lamar said. “We try to push them as long as we can.”

Lamar’s strawberries are grown on plastic above a drip irrigation system. The costs associated with that method often prompt farmers like Lamar to make the best of what they have with the materials they’ve invested in.

“In order to get your money back out of it, you almost have to double crop,” Lamar said.

In addition to Poteet strawberries, Lamar and her family grows tomatoes, spinach, fennel, kale, cucumbers and squash.

“We’ve always farmed,” Lamar said. “My husband and I, years ago when our children were little, ran cattle. We decided to diversify, and we put in a small plot of 30 acres and planted some vegetables. I sold at farmers markets with it. It just grew kind of like a snowball.”

Unlike row cropping, growing vegetables and fruits requires cultivation, hand-weeding and hand-picking.

“Anything you do in farming is a gamble. There are so many different variables,” Lamar said.

Although it isn’t always easy, fruit and vegetable growing is something the Lamar family takes pride in.

“This is a family run and owned farm,” Lamar said. “Two of my children help on this farm. We all work together. I’m getting to the age that I’m not wanting to do this anymore, so it’s going their way.”

Looking for the perfect Texas strawberry?

Lamar offers this advice: “(Look for) totally red with no green shoulders. That’s the perfect berry. As to the perfect shape, it depends on what variety they are. Some are flat. Some are round. Some are pointed. Some are blunt. Just so long as the berry is nice and red all the way up to the cap.”

Read the full article at http://texasneighbors.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Strawberries+Satisfy+Texas%27+Sweet+Tooth/2453323/297556/article.html.

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