ELIZABETHTOWN — It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to such luscious desserts such as strawberry shortcake and homemade strawberry ice cream. Or how about just picking the sweet fruit right off the vine and taking a bite?
This year’s strawberry crop may be a little late coming in due to the cold weather, but the crop looks to be a good one, according to Bladen County Agriculture Extension Agent Bruce McLean.
“From everything we’ve seen so far, it looks really good,” said McLean.
He added a few growers have started selling the early strawberries and he anticipates the strawberry season getting into full swing in Bladen County in the next week.
“Ideally, you like to start the second week of April,” said McLean of harvesting the tasty berries.
The cold weather has slowed the crop production, but not hurt it. He added that this past week’s severe weather and hail did not cause any significant crop loss or damage.
In a release, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said, ““It’s been a challenging winter season for strawberry growers, including a record freeze in early January and a late cold snap in April. Fortunately, growers used a combination of row covers and irrigation to preserve the crop with minimal loss, and we are set for an outstanding season.”
Rick Morris of Morris Farms said their strawberry crop was looking good.
“We planted about 1 acre,” said Morris. “There are big berries right now and they are ripe and ready to go.”
Morris said he is estimating that the berries will be gone by the end of the month. He added the unusually cool weather has shortened the season this year and lowered the ground counts.
“But the strawberries are beautiful this year,” said Morris.
He added that he was fearful the rain last week may have hurt the crop, but in fact it did not. Morris said they also dodged a bullet in the severe weather outbreak in that they did not receive any hail on the crop.
The hours for Morris Farm are Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., and the berries are offered either pick your own or farm picked. Cost per pound is $1.75 per pound pre-picked or $1.25 per pound you pick.
A message left for Pat Gooden of Gooden’s Strawberry Farm was not immediately returned.