Overlook Produce’s strawberry season cut short by pest

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 9:10 AM EDT
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MOUNT CRAWFORD Va. (WHSV) - Overlook Produce, Bakery and Deli just opened their strawberry fields for pick-your-own on May 15. Now, a week later, owner Joe Ulmer says the end is already in sight.

“The next flush of berries that we should be picking weren’t swelling up in size and I did some research and it turns out we actually have a bug called a Tarnished Plant bug that feeds on the flower when it’s blooming and basically keeps from swelling,” Ulmer said.

The pest has damaged around 80% of the strawberry crop, which is a situation Ulmer says he has not seen in the decade he’s been growing the fruit.

“We’ve never had to use insecticides before on our berry crop, I’ve never had any bug issues before on my strawberries, it’s definitely something you live and your learn. I’ll be scouting for them next year and trying to do some preventative measures to not allow this to happen again,” Ulmer said.

To fill the gap left by the damaged crop, Ulmer says Overlook will be sourcing picked berries from other producers in the area. He adds the community is still welcome to visit the farm and pick through the good crop.

“We don’t want customers to come out and it not be what they expected so we’re being transparent about the issue. We had a great first week and that pretty much summed it up, just a devastating blow to us for sure,” Ulmer said.