NEWPORT, N.C. (WNCT) – The strawberry season is blooming early this year in Eastern North Carolina.
Typically, April is when strawberries begin to blossom, but farms across the state are already picking and selling what they have. Willis Farms first started selling its fresh strawberries on Monday, straight from the field to the market.
“It’s our first crop that really gets people to come into the produce stand and it seems like it gets the season started off for us,” said co-owner of Willis Farms, Alan Willis.
Willis said they’ve had some good weather over the last few months, causing their strawberries to bloom earlier than normal.
“We start planting strawberries in the middle of October. This year, we had an extra warm winter and they really progressed really more than what they were supposed to,” Willis said. “Now we’ve got a few strawberries we can pick.”
The temperatures have been fluctuating since the warm February. Luckily, Willis said they’ve been able to keep their crops covered.
“We have row covers that we can cover and we also set up with deep-seated sprinklers where we irrigate and run water over and try to keep the temperature up a little bit,” Willis added.
He said he has about 10 people helping in the strawberry fields and a few in their market for people picking up the fresh produce.
“It’s the biggest part of our sales right now,” said Willis. “They can be used for a lot of things. Strawberry shortcake, jam, jellies, wine.”
His biggest advice to those interested in grabbing some local berries was simple.
“People think they’re sweeter at the end of the season. But I always tell folks, when we got them, come get them because we’re relying on the weather. You never know, we might have a day and not have them tomorrow,” Willis said.
Willis also said that when the strawberry season really picks up in a few weeks, they’ll have their fields open to pick your own strawberries for those interested.