News: Strawberry Crop Timely, Abundant

Leaders of the North Carolina Strawberry Association (NCSA) say the 2017 strawberry season will start on time this year with an abundance of fruit, despite above normal winter temperatures and early-spring frosts.

“The warmer weather in late winter had us predicting our strawberries would ripen early, but then overnight freezing temperatures brought the crop back on schedule and our farm will open the same time we typically do for strawberry season,” said Doug Patterson, NCSA president.

Patterson is a grower with Patterson Farms, a 4th generation family-owned produce business in China Grove, N.C., located 40 minutes northeast of Charlotte. His strawberries will be ready in mid-April and he says they will have an abundant supply.

The timing that strawberries ripen in North Carolina can vary by as much as two weeks due to weather conditions, geographical location of the farm and other factors. There are strawberry plant varieties that are cold tolerant and grow year round.

Kristy Phillips, NCSA executive secretary, says in North Carolina the strawberry season generally begins in early- to mid-April and goes through mid-June. This year some strawberry farms in the Piedmont and Coastal areas have already opened.

“The best way to know when strawberry farms will open and which ones are closest to you is to use our Farm Locator feature on our website,” Phillips said.

The Farm Locator feature on the new NCstrawberry.com website connects consumers with strawberry growers in their area. Organized by state (the association has members in other states, too), users can access a listing of farms’ physical addresses, phone numbers, emails and/or websites. A map on the website also pinpoints each farm’s location.

“We encourage those who want to buy or pick strawberries to always contact farms directly before their visit to confirm when they will open, their hours and berry quantities,” said Phillips.

NCSA’s updated website not only lets consumers know where they can pick or purchase strawberries, but also gives them ideas of what to do with the red fruit. New website features for strawberry member growers include creating an account through the website to keep their farm information current, registering and paying for the Southeast Strawberry Expo, and uploading and paying for advertising in the association’s monthly newsletter, The Strawberry Grower.