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OREGON, Wis. – Any farmer knows the business is a risky one, one that relies on Mother Nature doubling as a sort of Lady Luck.

This week, Cindy and Dale Secher know that as well as anyone.  The couple owns and runs Carandale Farms in Oregon, and for a few weeks every year, they have to take their chances on their strawberry crop.

“It's our gamble. This is our casino.  People in agribusiness, we gamble every day,” Cindy said.

Last year, parts of their berry crop were ruined when a foot of rain fell on the fields over picking season.  Dale said that kind of heavy rain can essentially waterlog the fruit and increase the potential for disease.  In addition, it delays his crew and “pick-your-own” customers from harvesting ripe fruit before it goes bad.

“Some rain would be good with the heavy mulch that we use, it really breaks the impact from the raindrop,” Dale explained.  “So heavy rain, heavy storms aren't too much of a problem, but if you have splash-up on the fruit, that can create some issues.”

“We need some rain right now, we could certainly use the rain,” Cindy added.  “We don't want a hard, driving rain.  Nice soft, gentle rain would be awesome.  Couple inches would be great.”

The Secher’s hope to open up the farm to the public on Wednesday, but as always, that is pending any weather issues.

Customers bought 1,000 quarts of pre-picked berries from Carandale Farms on Monday.

Strawberry operation can be a good income source, but it can also be a big money pit too.  You put all of that investment in, and you get bombed out with the weather or insects or disease or something like that. 

Dale said there are precautions farmers can take to alleviate the impact of weather events on their crops.  For instance, rows of mulch and straw the Secher’s have put in between rows of strawberry plants help soak up excess water and prevent “splash-up”.

Dale said regardless of what happens with weather this week, he will keep playing the odds until his son takes over the family business.

“Well let's put it this way, we learn how to play the game a lot better,” Dale said.

Severe weather threatens summer crops

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