LINCOLN COUNTY, Tenn. – We’re in for one more frigid night in the Tennessee Valley. And while many people are turning up the thermostat, Frank and Wayve Dennison are working late in the field.
The Dennisons are hoping some late nights now will mean a sweet reward for strawberry lovers next month.
“It’s the kind of week you don’t want to see,” Frank said.
Stomping through the damp grass and pulling back the tarp, Frank Dennison is checking his crop. This week’s frigid Tennessee nights have meant some late nights for Frank and Wayve.
“But if you just let it go, you’re risking the whole year,” Wayve said. “We planted these in October.”
The past few nights, they’ve turned the water on, creating a layer of ice. “What we try to do is build an igloo over the field,” Frank said.
“We have about 90,000 plants out there,” Wayve said.
“The real way you save them is by the chemical reaction of a liquid turning to a solid,” Frank said.
The Dennisons grow about six acres worth of Camarosa and Chandler strawberries. “I don’t think you can beat the taste of a Chandler,” Frank said.
“The first berries are the ones we call mitten-foots. They’re the ones that look like your hand,” Wayve said.
By Friday, the Dennisons hope they’re done talking about frost, so they can wait for their berries to ripen. They plan to send out the big red trailers next month, but they’re counting on some warmer days ahead from their weatherman.
“They can’t control it, I just love it when they get it right,” Wayve said.
The Dennisons say they expect to be picking their first round of strawberries by the end of April. Strawberry season normally lasts until June.