Sunshine brings real glut of strawberries
FRUIT farm workers have been clocking up overtime as the Wexford strawberry industry keeps up with the sun-fuelled demand for a luscioius taste of summer.
Fruit farm workers have been clocking up overtime as the Wexford strawberry industry keeps up with the sun-fuelled demand for a luscioius taste of summer.
Ballindaggin producer Jimmy Kearns confirmed that the lights have remained on in the packing shed at Curragraigue as late as 2.30 a.m. recently.
And pickers have been putting in 12 hour shifts to save the glut of berries which have been ripening fast in the Spanish tunnels on his farm.
'All the fruit is coming on at the same time,' explained Jimmy Kearns. 'We have had to put 60 people picking it.
'We are flat out but we can't complain. The price is good - consumption of strawberries has gone through the roof.'
His staff, a cosmopolitan mix of Irish, Polish, Romanian and Hungarian have been sweltering in temperatures regularly in the mid thirties celsius under the cover of the tunnels.
And the pickers called it a day two hours early last Wednesday as the thermometer hit the 40 degrees mark.
With all the strawberries turning red in a rush, they are finding that they can pick as much in five metres as they usually collect from 50 metres.
Most of the harvest has been dispatched promptly to supermarkets around the country.
However, some of the tasty smaller berries, which do not look as pretty, are being made into delicious jam.
Meanwhile, roadside sales have doubled or trebled in response to the glorious summer weather.
'We should be on top of it shortly,' declared the farmer as prospect of reducing the punishing overtime regime comes closer.
He was confident that the water supply which is essential to his business will not run dry, from wells sunk more than 700 feet down.