Strawberry farmers say all of the recent rain in southern Maine probably won’t harm their crops, but the cool weather could make the strawberry harvest late this year.

“For us, it looks like a good crop year,” said Bill Bamford of Maxwell’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth. “There are lots of blossoms. Some of our very early ones, we’ve got some small berries and it looks like a good crop, but it’s certainly not going to be early.”

Earl Bunting, who grows strawberries at Dole’s Orchard in Limington, said the farm normally opens to pickers around June 15, and the latest it’s ever opened is June 26. This year, he said, “I think we’re going to be close to that 26 number.”

His plants started blooming around May 18-20, and it takes about 30 days for an open flower to become a ripe berry.

“This cool weather has got to be slowing them down,” Bunting said. “It’s not so much the rain, it’s the cold.”

The future of the crop will depend a lot on whether it keeps raining, and how much it warms up.

“If the rain continues, we’re going to have a pretty mushy strawberry season,” said Caitlin Jordan of Alewive’s Brook Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

Farmers are using more fungicides on their berries this year because of the rain. Without it, Bunting said, the strawberries could potentially become “little gray fuzz balls.”

The National Weather Service in Gray is forecasting mostly sunny skies for the rest of the week, except for some scattered showers Friday and Saturday. A significant warm-up is expected beginning Sunday and continuing into next week.

“I’m hearing 80 degrees next week,” Bamford said. “If we get a string of weather that was warmer than average and it stayed warm at night, so they’re growing 24 hours a day rather than 12 hours a day, we could play catch-up pretty quick. It’s the nature of the beast.”

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