Once again, Chicken Little has it wrong; there’s nothing wrong with the North Carolina strawberry crop according to Debbie Wechsler, Executive Secretary of the NC Strawberry Association:
“North Carolina strawberry farmers do a very good job of frost protecting their crop. They were aware of the cold weather and there has been some terrific work by NC State Extension to get the word out and help them though. Everything I am hearing is they have been able to manage it.”
Strawberry farmers have several ‘tools’ in their ‘tool box’, and sometimes it takes them all to withstand a frost at this point, but Wechsler explains that those tools are very effective:
“This last frost was somewhat problematic because it was both cold and windy. A lot of growers had to use both of their major tools: row covers and overhear irrigation. When its very windy the water blows around so much its hard to get good coverage. When its really cold, sometimes the row covers are not enough. So many will do both. Some growers were irrigating as late as noon the following morning until it warmed up enough.”
As far as the season getting underway, this year it appears to be normal to a bit late according to Wechsler:
“Last year was very early, so that was an unusual early year, maybe two weeks last year. This year the prediction was for it to be a normal season, now with the cold weather that may delay the crop a bit and make it a bit slower to start.”
As far as quality and quantity, Wechsler says this year should be average:
“There were a few disease problems in some of the plant supply that may affect yields in some areas, but by and large its looking good.”
North Carolina is the fourth largest producers of strawberries in the United States. Debbie Wechsler, Executive Secretary of the North Carolina Strawberry Association.
Photo courtesy NC Strawberry Assoc.