It's that time of year when the fields are fully of juicy red berries and ready for strawberry lovers to come and fill up their buckets.
Frosts in the last few weeks were a threat for this year's strawberry crop, but farmers did the hard work to keep them safe.
“The recent hard frost kept strawberry growers busy protecting the plants’ tender blooms, but farmers have reported that those efforts seem to have been successful and consumers will be able to find local berries,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in a press release. “I enjoy seeing fresh North Carolina strawberries at pick-your-own farms, roadside stands, farmers markets and grocery stores. I know they will be the freshest and best tasting berries available.”
North Carolina is a strawberry powerhouse, growing 1,100 acres each year. It ranks fourth nationally in strawberry production, according to the state agriculture department.
Last year's strawberry season began just as the pandemic began. And farmers had to take extra measures to keep workers and customers safe, including installing additional hand washing stations; providing hand sanitizers for employees and customers; requiring employees to wear disposable gloves while handling produce; and ensuring sick employees stay home, according to the press release. Many also offered online ordering and curbside service and limited the number of people who could pick berries at one time.
Many strawberry farms are continuing the practices started last year for this season, the press release said.