Local News

N.C. Strawberry Crops Under The Weather

Posted April 11, 2003 11:27 a.m. EDT

— If you like picking strawberries, you may have to wait a little longer to pick a bucketful this season.

David Pope's strawberry fields in Knightdale are not maturing quite as rapidly this year. He blames it on the weather.

"This year it's been extremely cold. Even though we didn't have to frost protect a lot, it's been 38, 40, 42 degrees and it's also been very wet," he said.

The elements have set back the harvest for the bright red beacons of spring.

"Normally, we would start picking somewhere around April 20. This year, I'd say [it will be] around the first of May," Pope said.

Too much rain and not enough sunshine can also dull the flavor, according to Pope.

"Hopefully it will get dry next week and we can get some warm weather. Warm weather will put sweetness in them," he said.

Pope said another problem for growers is a later maturing crop means a shorter season to sell.

"Instead of having six weeks of picking we are probably going to have four," he said.

The weather affects more than just the strawberries.

"If we have cool, cloudy days, customers just don't like to pick strawberries. They want it hot and sunny," he said.

Once the warmer, sunnier days arrive, farmers say there will be plenty of plump, tasty strawberries ripe for the picking.