Cold stunts Finland’s berry crops

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Berry development is well behind schedule this year. (Hillevi Antikainen / Yle)
Berry development is well behind schedule this year. (Hillevi Antikainen / Yle)
Farmers in Finland’s biggest strawberry-growing region, Suonenjoki, are asking migrant berry-pickers from Russian Karelia to hold off on their arrival due to a delayed harvest. Some pickers from Ukraine have already arrived, though.

Chilly weather has slowed the growth of most berry varieties.

“We’ve been able to start picking some of the early varieties such as Honey,” says Juha Nenonen, a farmer from Koskelo in Suonenjoki, which lies between Jyväskylä and Kuopio in east-central Finland.

Some Ukrainian harvesters have already arrived on Nenonen’s farm, but he has asked those planning to come from just across the border in Russia to postpone their arrival.

Still hope for July
Ukrainian workers in a greenhouse. (Kaija Kervinen / Yle )
Ukrainian workers in a greenhouse. (Kaija Kervinen / Yle )

If the weather warms up, the main strawberry crop could still be ready to eat by mid-July.

Annually 12-17 million kilos of strawberries are harvested in Finland, with Suonenjoki accounting for 1.5-2.5 million kilos. Some 370 hectares are devoted to the crop in Suonenjoki. There are about 100 berry farms, which also produce raspberries, black currants, sea buckthorn and highbush blueberries, which are larger and sweeter than their wild cousins.

A large number of Thai migrant workers are again expected to arrive to pick the wild berry harvest later in the summer, despite last year’s pay disputes.

Related stories from around the North:

Finland: Worries over berry harvest in North Karelia, Finland, Yle News

Sweden:  Rain spoils potato harvest in Sweden, North hit hard, Radio Sweden

United States:  Farm flourishes on Alaska tundra, Alaska Dispatch

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