Warm weather gives strawberry season a jump start

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 2, 2012

By Shavonne Potts
There’s nothing but sunny skies in the near future and because of this and the unusually warm weather in the past few months, expect to see some summer fruit just a tad bit early.
“Everything is two weeks earlier. This weather is great,” said Doug Patterson of Patterson Farm in China Grove.
Normally around this time of the year, it is too cold for the berries to begin blooming. The rising temperatures are causing the strawberries to bloom sooner.
Temperatures are expected to reach into the 80s throughout the next few days.
Patterson called this perfect strawberry weather, saying it could likely mean a longer strawberry season.
“It will start early and end later,” Patterson said.
A strawberry season typically begins in mid-April and lasts through mid-June.
“This is the best crop ever,” he said.
Patterson expects more traffic in the coming weeks as the market opens and strawberry season nears.
People will also want to plant their own fruits now that the weather is ideal, he said.
“We hope to continue to June,” he said.
Ever present in his mind is the potential for a frost, but at this rate Patterson doesn’t see that happening in the forecast.
Patterson Farm grows strawberries on 40 acres, 10 of which is set aside for customers to pick-their-own.
The market opens today at 9 a.m.
Artie Watson of Wetmore Farms in Woodleaf said his crop was about a week to 10 days earlier than usual, but he lost some strawberries during the hail storm a week ago.
Watson said the hailstorm was unusual.
“At 4:30 in the morning, hail is not something you think about. And there’s not anything you can do about it. You take what you’ve got left and try to make something out of it,” he said.
“Half of those berries aren’t there anymore. We will still have some just fewer,” he said.
He said they’ll try to plant in order to recover. They’ll also have to feed the plants more fertilizer than normal to “get it jump started.”
Wetmore Farms has plants growing in the greenhouses that are ahead of the normal schedule and have grown faster.
“They are ready to be put outside,” Watson said.
He said they’ll also have tomato plants to go out next week if the great weather continues.
Watson hopes the good weather continues.
North Carolina ranks third in the U.S. in strawberry production and brings in more than $25 million annually for the state, according to the N.C. Strawberry Association.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.