Good weather, plenty of rain has berries ‘ripe for the picking’

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Strawberries are ripe for the picking at Young's Orchard and Berry Farm on FM 171. (Courtesy)

By Peggy Browning
Pioneer Sentinel

April showers may bring May flowers, but in the Clay County farming communities of Thornberry and Charlie they bring much more. They bring a bountiful harvest and a profitable season.  The trail of farms located along FM 171 count on good weather for their livelihood.

April 2011 brought little rain and was followed only by drought and a record breaking heat wave. After last year’s devastating weather and disappointing harvest, farmers see the recent spring rains as a sign of better times ahead. This year already looks better than the previous one.

Steve and Jan Young, owners of Young’s Orchard and Berry Farm, are encouraged by the recent rains and look forward to being extremely busy this spring and summer.

“Last year was tough,” Jan Young said. “But we are expecting this to be a much better year.”

So far, so good.

The Youngs opened their doors for this season’s business on March 31. Their strawberries and asparagus are producing abundantly right now and are ripe for the picking. Strawberries are available pre-picked by the gallon or customers can pick their own and pay by the pound.

Steve and Jan Young said they enjoy having families come out to the farm to pick their own berries. It’s a good experience for kids to see where their food originates. They encourage the young pickers to sample the goods while they fill their buckets in the strawberry patch.  It’s a win-win situation. Everybody profits from the fruits of their labors.

The Youngs  have about 70 irrigated acres of sandy fields currently in production. They grow just about everything a customer could want ranging from strawberries in the early spring to pecans through December.  In addition to having fresh picked strawberries and asparagus, they also have available now black-eyed peas and pecans that were shelled, frozen and stored at the end of last season.

Steve Young said the strawberry crop usually peaks around Mother’s Day, which is May 13 this year. However, he said the plants will continue to produce through the first part of June and the sweetly delicious Camarosa strawberries will be available through that time.

Young’s Orchard and Berry Farm grows and sells a large variety of produce. By early May, they will have onions and squash ready and by the end of May blackberries and peaches will be ready. June will bring plums, new potatoes, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and okra. By late June and early July, black-eyed peas, watermelons and cantaloupes will be added to the steady supply of the other garden delights. They also sell locally grown honey from Clay County beekeepers.

The Youngs sell their fruits and vegetables to individuals at their roadside stand and at their booth at the Wichita Falls Farmers Market. They also sell their fresh produce to restaurants and grocery stores.

The roadside market is located at 9978 FM 171 between Thornberry and Charlie. It is open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. until the last ripe berry is picked. Jan Young will be at the Wichita Falls Farmer’s Market in downtown Wichita Falls from 7:30 a.m. through 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays when it opens for the season on May 19.

The Youngs suggest that you call before coming out to their roadside market to check on the availability of the berries. They can be reached at (940) 544-2211, 631-7111, or 631-8284 or email them at orchard@wf.net.

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Pioneer Sentinel

The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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