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  • Strawberries ready for picking 

  • The strawberry season is off to a late start, but local growers say the berries came through the harsh winter without a problem.
  • The strawberry season is off to a late start, but local growers say the berries came through the harsh winter without a problem.
    Julian Wooten of Southwest Strawberry Farm in Jacksonville said they started picking strawberries last week.
    “It is a few weeks late, but there are some pretty berries out there,” Wooten said.
    Now, he’s counting on some nice spring weather before the summer heat arrives.
    “We hope it doesn’t get too hot too fast,” he said.
    Jack Aman of Aman Family Farms off Belgrade-Swansboro Road in the Belgrade community said the long, cold winter didn’t hurt their strawberry crop.
    “We have to baby them. We have to irrigate them and hopefully we can by-pass the winters. Strawberries like cold weather better than hot as long as we keep the frost off them,” he said.
    Despite a late cold snap, strawberry growers are still expecting a strong season that will last into the first part of June, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture.
    “It’s been a challenging winter season for strawberry growers, including a record freeze in early January and a late cold snap in April,” Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said via a news release. “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.”
    Several growers in the southeastern part of the state started harvesting in mid-April, but the peak of the season should arrive around the second week of May, officials said.
    Aman said they started picking berries the middle of April.
    The berries are out and look good. What has been missing are the people.
    While the cool weather is OK for the berries, the spells of rain and cooler temps aren’t good for customers.
    “We’re looking for some nice weather to bring people out,” he said.
    Mike’s Farm as well as Aman Family Farms and Southwest Strawberry Farm let you pick your own or you can purchase the berries from their stands. Fresh strawberries are also available at the Onslow County Farmers Markets.
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