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Early strawberry harvest in Latvia

The Latvian strawberry harvest is unusually early this year - the first berries were picked in early May. This also means that local strawberries will only be available on the market until Midsummer. The heat will make the berries sweeter, but growers estimate that this year's harvest will be smaller than in other years, Zemgale regional television reported June 6.

The farm "Pasakas" in the Vircava municipality of the Jelgava region has about six hectares of raspberries, rhubarb, onions, courgettes, watermelons, melons and strawberries.

"We started very, very simply. In fact, on this very field where we are standing, where the greenhouse is now, there was no greenhouse here. We had 0.8 hectares of land and we planted the first 70,000 strawberry plants with four different strawberry varieties," said Madara Skvorceviča, the farm's spokesperson.

Now is the busiest time of the year for strawberry harvesting. Mornings are the best time.

"Around 5 am, when it is still quite cold. The greenhouses are also cool, the berries are not overheated, and picking is much better for us and for the strawberries," said Madara.

The harvest this year will be average - strawberries are in a hurry, Madara said. Warm nights and hot days have made the berries ripen quickly.

In general, all strawberry growers have faced an early harvest this year, but they have to adapt and act quickly, the farmer union Farmers' Saeima said. Faced with unpredictable weather conditions, many are trying to grow strawberries so that they are available even in September.

However, Latvian strawberries will only be available in large quantities until the end of June. 

Guntars Dzērve, agronomist at Augusta Strawberries, pointed out that if nature rushes things, most farms are likely to have a smaller harvest:

"At least on my farm, the strawberries that were supposed to start production in mid-June and continue around Midsummer have started production now. I am looking at the number of kilograms picked and it is likely that the strawberry harvest will be lower."

According to the Rural Support Service, 349 hectares of strawberries were cultivated in Latvia last year. This year could be similar, but the data have not yet been compiled.

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