Record heat could mean trouble for local strawberry gardens

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Updated: Jun. 5, 2021 at 9:13 PM CDT
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Aurora, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - With summer upon us, berry season is starting soon, but with the recent cold snap a few weeks ago and the record hot temperatures this weekend, local berries could be in trouble.

Strawberries grow best in temperatures between 75 and 85 degrees, but with temperatures hitting nearly 100 degrees at Sanderson Gardens today, the crops needed a little cooling off.

“I had to sprinkle nine nights for frost and that was only three weeks ago and now I’m sprinkling to keep them from burning up, so those are the extremes you have to deal with, and strawberries are a pretty fickle crop,” said Jan Sanderson, owner of Sanderson Gardens.

The strawberries take more than a year to be ready to be picked and eaten, with several factors going into if the plant can survive or not.

“If it’s too cold you got to warm them up with water, if it’s too hot you got to cool them down with water, so the use of irrigation is the main component in trying to keep them growing perfectly,” said Sanderson.

Strawberries are a difficult crop to manage, and the wide range of elements here in South Dakota, make the job even more difficult.

“Strawberries were never meant to be grown in South Dakota, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, the strawberry plants need to take up moisture slowly enough to fill the berries with water, so when the temperature gets too hot, it actually makes the plants go sort of dormant,” said Sanderson.

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