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Monclova farm's strawberry harvest impacted by near-historic spring dry spell

Workers at Stevens Gardens in Monclova are pulling water from other sources just to give their crops some hope after sixteen straight days of dry weather.

MONCLOVA, Ohio — Monday marked 16 days in a row without rain in northwest Ohio. Workers at Stevens Gardens in Monclova are pulling water from other sources just to give their crops some hope.

"We need sun, we need water. We've gotten sun. We're not getting water," Debbie Stevens-Laux, with Stevens Gardens, said. "So, we are putting down our own water this year."

With no rain in the forecast until some chances this weekend, Toledo is on track to set the longest streak of hot, dry days during the spring. 

The last record for a spring dry spell is 19 days in 1988. 

Stevens Gardens workers are pulling water from ditches and ponds in hopes of still having a strawberry season, but the water supply could run dry soon.

"We definitely have to get the strawberries because they are producing right now and when some plants are in fruit, that's when they need the most water," Stevens-Laux said. 

A strawberry goes through five stages before it makes its way to your kitchen. Dormant, bud, blossomed, berries and then ripened. 

While they are now in the berries-to-ripened stages, the strawberry season could be cut short if it does not rain soon. 

"We could have another three weeks of season left, or it could get pushed along by too much heat and sun, and just get a two-week season. We've actually had that happen before," Stevens-Laux said.

At this current stage, the strawberries need at least one inch of rain a week. Stevens-Laux says the farm's water irrigation systems have been running for three weeks now since the last rain.

"Well it definitely cost us more to water because we are using manpower, we are using gasoline to run our pumps. But this year we are not raising our price on strawberries, so they are still going to be the same for the consumer, but it is going to cost us a little more to get to that point," Stevens-Laux said.

The strawberries will remain at $6 a quart, but each quart will cost the farm 10% more to produce than the production rate last year.

While customers were turned away today, they say the strawberries are worth waiting for.


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