Japanese strawberry growers combat effects of typhoon

The Tochigi Prefecture (Kantō region) on Honshu is the biggest strawberry producer in Japan. Now, farmers there are working at a fever pitch to prepare for the Christmas season. And there is much work to do: When Typhoon No. 19 hit in October, it flooded the Omoi River that runs through Kanuma, one of the main production areas. Some greenhouses were covered in sediment, but the farmers are giving it their all.

According to the Kamitsuga agricultural cooperative, which has jurisdiction over the city, about 30 of the approximately 200 strawberry farms owned by co-op members were damaged by the flood. This included sediment in greenhouses, collapsed greenhouses and mud on seedlings.

"Recovery will take a lot of effort," said Shinichi Emata, head of the co-op's strawberry department. Co-op staff have been dispatched to help with removing sediment and other work. The flood hit right around the time the strawberry flowers were beginning to bloom. Farmers removed the flowers that had mud on them, as any fruit would be unsellable, and waited for them to bloom again.

The undamaged seedlings grew poorly during September's warm stretch, and by the end of November shipments were down about 20% compared to the same period last year. Still, the situation is gradually recovering.

Thetelegraph.com also reported on farmers whose greenhouses were completely destroyed; they had to abandon this year's crop and are preparing to rebuild.

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