Portion of state's strawberry crops die in floods - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Portion of state's strawberry crops die in floods

Louisiana Strawberries (FOX 8 Photo) Louisiana Strawberries (FOX 8 Photo)
PONCHATOULA, LA (WVUE) -

The recent flooding in Tangipahoa wiped out nearly 15 percent of the state’s strawberry crops, according to Commissioner of Agriculture Mike Strain.

“So far, what I know of, two farms were inundated with water. I can't tell you exactly how large they were, I think we're gonna have anywhere from 30 to 50 acres inundated out of the state's 300 acres,” Strain said.

The damaged crops could mean fewer berries at the Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival.

"They were affected I know quite a few farmers that are really working hard to get some berries and there are some farmers that are getting berries, so we ask everyone if they see a local farmer buy from them because they're the ones that are actually struggling,” festival Chairman David Atkins said.

Flood water inundated some crops, but plants could be saved if the water drained quickly, which was the case in some parts of Eastern Tangipahoa.

While much of the fruit was lost, the plants that survived give farmers and organizers hope the fruit will be on the menu in April.

"If it doesn't rain a whole lot, and the sun comes out, you just don't know how they're gonna produce, I've seen berries one day they're all green and you come back the next day and they're all red,” Atkins said.

Several farmers FOX 8 spoke to said there will be berries on the flat, but the price might be a little higher.

For festival goers, there’s still plenty of reason to visit Ponchatoula, including the dozens of non-profits set to benefit from the festival, many of which are already helping flood victims across the parish.

“So we're asking anyone that comes out to please buy from the non-profits because they're the ones that help the flood victims, they're the ones that help the farmers, so we really need them to come out a support them,” Atkins said.

Strain said he’ll meet with farmers Wednesday night in Hammond to discuss the problem, crop insurance, and help for eligible farmers.

The festival kicks off April 8 and lasts through the weekend.

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