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Agriculture commissioner: Strawberry farmers expecting strong season in '16

Posted April 13

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— Despite a recent string of below-freezing nights, North Carolina strawberry growers are expecting a productive season, state officials said Wednesday.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said many farmers in the eastern part of the state are already picking berries, about two weeks earlier than normal.

“Our growers are very experienced with dealing with late frosts and know how to protect their crops,” Troxler said in a statement. “Because of their diligent efforts, this season shows a lot of promise with plenty of strawberries available. Plus, since we had warm weather in winter, consumers will be able to enjoy fresh berries even earlier.”

In the central part of the state, farmers will likely begin picking berries in the last week of April. In the west, berries should be ready by the first week of May. Find fresh strawberries and produce in your area.

Curtis Smith, owner of T.C. Smith Produce Farm in Lenoir County and the vice president of the North Carolina Strawberry Association, says farmers across the state are expecting to have productive crops.

North Carolina is the fourth-largest producer of strawberries in the nation. In 2015, farmers statewide produced 14.3 million pounds of strawberries, according to data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Strawberry Days at farmers markets

To celebrate the season, the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services will host Strawberry Days at each of the four state-operated farmers markets.

The events will be held at the Robert G. Shaw Piedmont Triad Farmers Market in Colfax on May 6; the State Farmers Market in Raleigh on May 12; the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market in Charlotte on May 20; and the WNC Farmers Markets in Asheville on May 27.

Each event runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and features free samples of strawberry ice cream, plenty of fresh strawberries from local growers and a visit from Suzy Strawberry. The Colfax and Raleigh dates also include a strawberry recipe contest.

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  • Janet Ghumri Apr 13, 2016
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    Whoo-Hoo!! Glad to hear those juicy little nuggets will be right on time (even early!) It's mouth watering fun to pick-'em!