By Clint Thompson
The country’s No. 3 state in strawberry production is expecting a “bumper crop” this year, according to Mark Hoffmann, North Carolina State small fruits Extension specialist.
“If the weather holds up, it’s going to be one of the best strawberry years in a long time,” Hoffmann said. “It’s a bumper crop right now.”
Hoffmann made the comments before Thursday when a cold front moved through the area. Up until this week, though, the weather had been ideal for strawberry production.
“We had good weather. We had a relatively mild winter. We didn’t have a lot of frost going on, just a few events where we had to cover. We’ve had a pretty good year so far, for strawberries,” Hoffmann said.
While the crop appears to be bountiful, there is some uncertainty regarding sale of fruits and vegetables amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Hoffmann appears confident his state’s strawberry producers will not have problems selling their crop.
“With the whole COVID-19 situation, it’s very different right now. It looks like operations that can sell directly to customers, the direct-to-customer sales is something that’s picking up right now,” Hoffmann said. “Right now, I don’t think there’s a problem getting strawberries a home.”
Hoffmann estimates that strawberries in North Carolina generates $26 million per year, which makes it the third largest in the country behind California and Florida.
“It’s a great industry. I would say in the Southeast, it has a very good infrastructure. We have wholesalers and shippers. We have growers that have more than 100 acres. One has 150 acres of strawberries,” Hoffmann said. “I would estimate we have 300 to 400 growers in the state.”
For more information about strawberry production in North Carolina, see N.C. State strawberry website.