High heat leads to early strawberry season

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The warm-up in the Valley may have made some people uncomfortable this weekend, but some farmers welcomed the heat. The warmth of the sun had strawberries ripening much earlier than normal. Some stands were already open for business.

Strawberries didn't bake in the Central Valley's record-breaking heat. Instead they took on a deep red color as they soaked up the 91 degree temperatures. The winter warmth had Heulong Siong opening his strawberry stand a month earlier than usual.

Fresno County small farm advisor Michael Yang said, "It's something new. It's because of the weather or it's because we have no water and the berries just set early. I don't know."

Water will continue to be a concern in a longer growing season during drought conditions. Siong's well went dry last year. Siong said, "Yeah I had a little bit of a problem. Last year I extended my pump 30 feet." Crews dug 30 feet deeper into the aquifer to keep the 11-acre farm going.

Customers were surprised to see the stand open so early. Strawberries weren't usually ready until the seasons changed. Yang said, "In April but he started March 9th and it's like a month ahead."

Not all of the Valley's strawberry stands were open -- just the lucky ones where the berries are rapidly ripening.

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