This is the title of the article written by the journalist Etienne Fortin and published last September 15th in La Voix de l’Est, in which he interviews the strawberry producer David Côté from Damaco Produce in Saint-Paul d'Abbotsford. Indeed it’s time for autumn strawberries!

The article translates into English as follows:
« The apples are no longer the only queens in autumn. The months of September and October now get on well with the strawberry season... of autumn! The autumn strawberry picked between August and October actually makes up for the majority of the production of this small red fruit in Quebec.

Still unknown, the autumn strawberry allows producers to offer this fruit to Quebeckers close to six months per year. “The autumn strawberry can produce fruit on a continuous basis contrary to the summer strawberry which only produces around the St-Jean-Baptiste (June 24th). Nowadays, the strawberry season no longer lasts only two to three weeks, it continues until October 15th at the least” confides David Côté, fruit and vegetable producer in de Saint-Paul-d’Abbotsford.

He, who grows 300 000 autumn strawberry plants each year, fell for this production due, among other reasons, to its sweeter taste. “The taste changes as the months go by. The strawberry is more acid in the beginning of the season and the more time passes, the more we find livelier colors, a different taste and higher levels of sugar. The taste is better now”, he says with enthusiasm.

More and more popular
David Côté is not the only one to like autumn strawberries. This year, the Association of strawberry and raspberry producers of Quebec estimates there is around a hundred of Quebec producers that grow the autumn strawberry. “It arrived in Quebec about 15 years ago but then it was very experimental. Since five years, the number of producers has significantly increased and it can be seen much more in the grocery stores”, explains Sara Boivin-Chabot, research agent at the Association. The production of autumn strawberries represents however a logistical challenge for many producers who grow several types of fruit and vegetables. “Those who also grow apples can no longer put as much labour on the autumn strawberry. For the foreign labour it is however more interesting than before. Instead of coming for three weeks, they can have a stable job during five months”, explains Ms. Boivin-Chabot.

The Association estimates that the volume of autumn strawberries grown now surpasses the one of summer strawberries. The Quebec producers got interested in this agricultural product with the objective, among others, to compete better with their US neighbours. “Traditionally, we had strawberries during two weeks so we left the entire place to Florida and California strawberries. Nowadays, we offer close to six months of strawberries to Quebeckers”, she explains.

Still today, a good number of citizens does not know that the strawberry season goes as far as October and that they can still go and pick their own on some producers’ lands. The Association of strawberry and raspberry producers of Quebec intents to demystify the autumn strawberry and to convince Quebeckers to continue consuming this Quebec product until the production ceases. In Quebec, there is a total of 556 strawberry producers who produce a total of 9371 tons of fruit for a total value of 36 million dollars per year. The majority of the production is sold in Quebec”.

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