ON SHELF: Wandal IGA produce manager Shelley Saunders and store manager Karen Ross with the latest fresh produce.
ON SHELF: Wandal IGA produce manager Shelley Saunders and store manager Karen Ross with the latest fresh produce. Allan Reinikka ROK030816astrawbe

LISTEN: Strawberries ripe for the picking right now

JUICY, plump and bright red - strawberries are in season but unpredictable winter weather has left local growers with low supply and the season potentially drawing to an early end.

Usually in abundance between June and September, Queensland strawberry growers supply more than 30% of the national industry but it's not enough to quench the markets strawberry thirst.

Unseasonal June and July rainfall pushed local Central Queensland growers to close their doors and reduce supply to grocers, forcing usually locally-loyal retailers to look elsewhere for their customers' strawberry fix while grocery stores are deleting the fruit from their supply list as early as next week - seven weeks early.

Wandal IGA produce manager Shelley Saunders said the last delivery of strawberries for the year would be made on Tuesday.

"Strawberry season will go for another month but they have been deleted from the price line (which means) they were in season before," she said.

"But the quality and flavour is still very high."

Absolutely Beautiful Flowers owner Alan Thomasson said the business branched into supplying local fresh produce but he was forced to look elsewhere for strawberries this week after local farms were weather effected.

"We support all the local growers because if we don't there will be nobody around, there will only be Woolworths and Coles," he said.

"When we had all that rain a week or so ago, because obviously the vines lay on the ground, they've got a major issue. They get too wet and then they don't produce."

Queensland Strawberry Growers Association vice-president Adrian Schultz said while strawberries were a hardy plant, 'strange' weather conditions throughout the season meant supply was disturbed.

"It was particularly hot for the planting period, in March we had virtually every day at 30 degrees which is particularly difficult in planting runners," he said.

Mr Schultz said the state-wide industry was not as heavily effected by weather as the local industry and southern strawberry eaters could enjoy the fruit right up until September.

He said ideal growing conditions were bright, clear skies, nights of around 12 to 14 degrees and daytime temperatures of around 22 to 25 degrees.

But in season or not, Mr Schultz said his favourite strawberry was Queensland variety Ruby Gold.

"Flavour is what we look for and of course good appearance," he said.


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