Strawberry growers across Iowa are nearly ready to welcome customers with an earlier- than-normal harvest and a good crop of berries this year. Strawberry growers from the western part of the state are reporting that strawberries will be ready to pick within the coming week. Reports from the other parts of the state are showing that harvest season for strawberries should arrive in about two weeks.
"Strawberries are Iowa's first fruit crop of the season," notes Bill Northey, Iowa secretary of agriculture. "Visiting a local farmers market or going to a 'you-pick' farm is a great way to find fresh berries that can be enjoyed fresh, used in backing or preserved as jellies or jams. Regardless of where you get your berries, you need to act fast because strawberry season in Iowa only lasts a few weeks."
Strawberries are a delicious treat and good for you, too
Once picked, strawberries do not continue to ripen like some fruits and vegetables so you need to select vibrant red berries. Also, shop early and often because strawberries have a short shelf life and should be eaten within a few days of being picked.
If taste alone isn't enough to encourage you to indulge in strawberries, here are a few more reasons to consider:
•Strawberries are low in calories and fat-free; one cup of unsweetened strawberries has only 55 calories.
•Your kids will eat them; over 53% of seven- to nine-year-olds picked strawberries as their favorite fruit.
•Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C and good sources of folic acid, potassium, and fiber.
Support a local grower and give your family a real treat
Support a local grower and treat your family to a fun-filled trip to the strawberry patch and make memories that will last a lifetime. If visiting a strawberry patch, be sure to call or check the website for their harvest information.
You can find strawberry growers in Iowa by visiting the Iowa Department of Agriculture's directory of Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Farms at idalsdata.org/fmnp/index.cfm or on the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association "farm search" page at ifvga.org/en/about_us/farm_search/.