Local News

Sweetening Spring with Fresh Strawberries

Posted April 18, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT

— After months of waiting and worrying, strawberry growers are smiling. Fears that a late cold spell would hurt the crop turned out to be wrong, and strawberry fans are getting their first look and first taste of this season's harvest.

A Johnston County strawberry field is new territory for Toni German. The New Hampshire native is picking southern berries for the first time, and she likes what she sees.

"I was hoping they'd be like that. It is a surprise, because I didn't know how they would be to be really honest," said German.

To be really honest, no one knew how the crop would turn out until recently. Warm weather in December and January lured strawberry blossoms out too early in many fields.

Farmers worried that repeated cold snaps would hit crops hard, but they never did.

"They prematurely bloomed, and, of course, we had another cold spell to come along and take them off, but everything has been fine since then. We haven't had any unusually cold weather we couldn't handle," said grower Keith Hill.

The berries are ready, and for fans like Steven Brush, they are as good as any he can remember.

"They're real pretty. Big, soft, juicy-looking. I'm having a tough time not just picking them up and putting them in my mouth," said Brush.

People do not have to worry about eating too many. The fruits weathered the winter just fine. What could have been an off year is proving to be a banner crop.

Most growers expect the strawberries to be available until the first week of June.

Many farms will give customers a discount if they grab a bucket and pick the fruit themselves.