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Unusually Early Harvest Putting Ohio Produce Growers in a Pickle

By Ty Higgins

Much warmer than normal temperatures in February and March gave Ohioans an early preview of the upcoming spring, but for produce growers like Martha Mora, it was a cause for concern.

Mora, a Fulton County Farm Bureau member and owner of Johnston Fruit Farms in Swanton,, said the early mild weather has caused her strawberry, raspberry and blueberry crops to be ripe for the picking well before her u-pick customers were accustomed to.

“When your local customer has it marked on their calendar or in their mind that they are going to come out and pick at a certain time and you are at least two weeks early, that’s a big problem,” Mora said

For many of the fruits grown in Ohio, time is of the essence when it comes harvesting the freshest produce possible.

“It depends on the crop, but they definitely all have their limits,” Mora said. “When a strawberry is ripe today, you better pick it. It was a bump in the road to start the season, but there are a lot of green berries out there and nice weather ahead of us, so I think we are going to be able to salvage a really nice crop.”

More used her social media accounts to spread the word about her crops being unusually ahead of schedule, and the community responded.

“I put a post out telling people of our situation and we had a tremendous response,” Mora said. “Since the day I made that post we have been very busy, and I am extremely thankful for that.”

After all, no customers means no income in a business that works on slim margins and labor shortages.

“The bottom line would have fallen out if the fruit was left in the field,” Mora said. “As a u-pick farm you are at the mercy of your customers year in and year out as you rely on them heavily to bring the harvest in for you.”

For other farmers, like Megan Perry from Carter’s Produce and Farm Market in Wauseon, the produce being ready early has been beneficial.

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