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Guess the Specialty Crop

Can you guess what specialty crop we’re featuring this month?

-          There are over 600 varieties of this crop (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI))

-          This crop is a member of the Rose family (Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom)

-          This is America’s most popular “berry,” even though they aren’t technically a berry (DPI)

-           Each fruit has approximately 200 seeds on its outside, which is why they are not technically a berry (Wisconsin Ag in the Classroom)


If you haven’t figure it out yet, we’re talking about the delicious strawberry!



According to the University of Wisconsin arboretum, wild strawberries grow on “woodland edges, savannas, old fields, wet or dry prairies, rocky openings, roadsides, or along railroads.” They were traditionally used by Indigenous peoples for food and medicine for various stomach complaints. Strawberry leaves were also dried and used in tea to alleviate a variety of ailments. The strawberries we know today are the result of experimentation and crossbreeding of wild strawberries from different regions, creating a plant that produces good amounts of large, flavorful berries.


Strawberry plants are sensitive to a photo-period, meaning their ability to blossom and produce runners is dependent on the amount of daylight they receive. They grow best in cooler climates, full sunlight, and sandy soils for drainage, though they can grow in a variety of soil types. Strawberry plants should be planted in the spring and all blossoms produced the first year should be removed, allowing the plant to become better established. The crowns of the strawberry plant are perennials, meaning they live for two or more years, but the roots die each season. The crown sends out runners, or stolons, to create new plants. Once into their second year of growth, bees will help spread the pollen, ensuring a bright, bountiful harvest 30-45 days after blossoms arrive.



Here in Wisconsin, strawberries are typically ripe in June. Southern Wisconsin Junebearers will typically ripen June 1 to July 10 and northern Wisconsin crops tend to ripen June 20 to July 15. Junebearers are the most productive type of strawberry, though everbearers will produce one crop in the summer and a better crop each fall. When harvesting the fruit, you should pinch the stem between your thumb and forefinger and pull with a twisting motion, leaving the stem on the fruit. Do not wash them until you are ready to eat or prepare them, as early washing will speed up spoilage.


Strawberries fresh from the field are absolutely delicious on their own, but when combined with a cream cheese filling and a flakey crust, the strawberry cream cheese pie really brings them to the next level. Strawberries are packed into both the glaze and the filling, making the perfect way to use up some of your fresh harvest. With just five steps, this recipe is sure to be a crowd pleaser at your next summer gathering. Visit GatherWisconsin.com for the full recipe.



If you’re looking to enjoy some delicious Wisconsin strawberries, visit SomethingSpecialWI.com and search “strawberry”. They have multiple businesses around the state that offer pre-picked or pick your own options for strawberries each season!

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