6/18/11

Foto Finish--Something New

Today's Foto Finish theme is "Something New."  Here's my entry:


Oregon Strawberries!!  While I was out and about during the week, I saw the first of the Oregon strawberry season.  We, in Oregon, are very picky about our strawberries.  While California berries have been available for at least a month, Oregon berries are considered superior in taste and texture, and unrivaled in quality for canning and freezing.  Generally, we turn up our noses at strawberries grown any place other than Oregon, and so it's quite a treat when this short-lived season begins. 

I wondered a little about the history of Oregon strawberries, and so I did a little research.  Strawberries have been around since the time of the Greeks and Romans.  Commercial strawberry growing began around 1800 in America and moved west with the pioneers.  Reportedly, strawberries were grown near Vancouver, Washington, in 1836 (just across the Columbia River from Portland).  Henderson Luelling is credited with beginning strawberry farming in Oregon when he traveled by wagon train with his family from Iowa in 1846, bringing two extra wagon loads of fruit and nut trees and berry plants.  Strawberries were considered a stopgap crop while the fruit and nut trees grew to maturity. 

Many different varieties of berries have been grown in Oregon, most notably Marshalls, which were grown well into the 1960s.  However, just after World War II, western farmers unknowingly imported virus-infected plant stocks and the Marshall berry was very susceptible to the virus.  Hood berries were introduced in 1965, and those are the berries we mainly see today.  Now, approximately 70% of Oregon's processing berries are of the Totem, Tillamook, or Hood varieties.  Currently, Oregon ranks third in the nation in strawberry production, but it is a distant third to Florida and California.  Compared to California's 1.9 billion pounds, Oregon is considered a niche market.  Because we have a colder climate, the vast majority of our berries are June-bearing varieties.  Additionally, our climate dictates a three-week harvest period.  While our berries are considered superior in quality, they are costly to grow and harvest, and therefore require a greater price in the market to remain viable. 

The berries we see in the supermarket are generally California berries.  The best Oregon berries are available from road-side fruit stands and farmer's markets.  I picked these up at the first road-side stand I've seen this year.  Our harvest is late because of our cold spring.

That's probably more than you ever wanted to know about strawberries, Oregon or otherwise!  In keeping with my Something Old, Something New, June themes, I'm skipping over the "something borrowed" part of that little verse and going straight for the "something blue."  Next week's theme will be:

Something Blue

Now I'm ready for your "Something New" images.  Here's Mr. Linky:
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5 comments from clever and witty friends:

Kate said...

Strawberries don't last long in this house, no matter where they come from. Great shot, love the deep red and the texture.

quiltzyx said...

What a yummy photo! I want to reach right in, grab some & pop 'em in my mouth.
My 'something new' is a bit different....you'll see! LOL

MareeR said...

Its the wrong season for us for strawberries. We have just replanted our strawberry plants and should get our first berries late November/early December.

Stormy Days said...

Those are beautiful, now I'm hungry for strawberries.

Snoodles said...

Hmmmm....I think I'll go up and have a few strawberries and some whipped cream!! LOL Interesting post! I had no idea that you would even be able to grow strawberries as a crop up there! Have a pleasant weekend!
Jacque in SC
quiltnsrep(at)yahoo(dot)com