Welcome to the new North Carolina Strawberry Blog, bringing news, thoughts, perspectives, ideas, and miscellaneous information about strawberries. I’ve been planning to write this for months, with sentences tumbling around in my brain, eager to get out — I like to write, and I welcome the opportunity to write about strawberries. (We’ll have some “guest bloggers” as well.)
I bring several prespectives to this blog: I’ve been Executive Secretary of the North Carolina Strawberry Association since 1997. I raise strawberries myself on a home-garden scale. I am a mother of two boys, now away in college, who have been picking and enjoying strawberries since they were toddlers, and I firmly believe in getting kids out onto farms and introducing them to the pleasures of good, healthy food. And I love to eat strawberries, especially fresh picked ones. Right now, my own plants are covered with flowers and have lots of green fruit of all different sizes. It won’t be long!
This is looking like a good year for strawberries here in North Carolina. Cold weather over the fall and winter slowed the plants down, so most farms are reporting that they are expecting to open a week or two later than usual. Some farms are now open, and others will open next week, and by the end of April most North Carolina farms will be wide-open. All this sunny weather we are having right now (do I dare say “California weather”?) is perfect for building up sugars in the fruit.
Here’s a harvest forecast from to NCSU Strawberry Specialist Barclay Poling, “Berries are now getting ripe in the Sandhills and volume will increase significantly by late next week in the Coastal Plain and Sandhills. Many farms in the Piedmont will not be ready until early May, and will hopefully have adequate picking for Mothers’ Day weekend (May 8-9). I am anticipating peak volumes in second and third week of May when all areas will be picking, including the Mountains.”
Each farm is different–they have different microclimates, and one field may ripen earlier than another just a few miles away. Some growers plant varieties that ripen earlier (usually “Sweet Charlie”) or encourage plants to bear fruit sooner by covering them during the winter.
We’ll keep you posted!