The North Carolina Strawberry Association is optimistic about the upcoming season for growers. The weather has been ideal lately and growers are hoping there won’t be extreme temperatures in the coming months.
The Association’s Executive Secretary, Debbie Wechsler, says a few farms are already growing:
"It’s kind of a wave that goes across the state, so it’ll start in the Sandhills in the Coastal Plain, and then around the Raleigh area and the western Piedmont and then in the mountains. And so it’s very hard to say when the season is going to start. But sometime in the next few weeks a lot of farms will be opening up and so far what we’re seeing is the plants look really good."
Wechsler says a typical season lasts about 5 to 7 weeks per farm. She says most strawberries grown in North Carolina are sold directly to consumers at farms, roadside stands and in the supermarket.
"You know, they’re fresh, they’re local. If you go to a farm and pick them yourself, you know they’re absolutely fresh. If you pick them up at the farm, you know, pick them up at a farm stand, more than likely they were picked that morning. And there’s a lot to be said for that kind of freshness in terms of preserving the nutrients and the quality."
The state's strawberry crop is worth more than $20 million a year according to 2008 USDA figures.