Norwegians tend to be immensely proud of their locally grown strawberries, which usually ripen slowly under the near constant daylight of May and June until they’re hand-picked in July. This year, the heat wave and lack of rain has all but ruined conditions for the summertime delicacy.
Growers warned early this week that blazing temperatures and not nearly enough water means Norway’s strawberry season is nearly over before it began. Thor Graff, who raises strawberries at his farm at Røyken in Buskerud, had to close his fields to those coming to pick berries themselves because there simply weren’t any more left. The situation was similar at berry farms in Oppland County.
“We just have to get through this summer and hope that it’s better next year,” Graff told state broadcaster NRK. “It’s so dry and the ground is hard as rock where we haven’t been able to water.” He faces a deficit of several hundred-thousand on his berry business because the season was so short.
Berry growers also had trouble harvesting the berries that ripened much earlier than usual, because their crews of young berry-pickers were either still in school or those from abroad hadn’t traveled to Norway yet for traditional summer jobs in the fields. Norwegian farmers, especially in the berry business, rely heavily on seasonal workers from Poland and other Baltic countries.