Mouthful

North Carolina strawberry crop is early this year

rwillett@newsobserver.com

The North Carolina strawberry season is about two weeks early this year and several Triangle pick your-own farms have opened their farm stands and expect to open their fields this week.

“I know by next week we’ll be open and letting customers pick,” Karma Lee, owner of Buckwheat Farm in Apex, said on Wednesday.

With the warm weather in March, Lee said she saw eight to 10 blossoms on each strawberry plant by mid-March instead of the usual two to three blossoms. Farmers were able to protect those plants from last weekend’s freezing temperatures using row covers or overhead irrigation. Overall, Lee said this year’s crop is 10 days to 2 weeks earlier than previous years.

North Carolina is the fourth largest producer of strawberries in the United States. In 2015, North Carolina growers produced 14.3 million pounds of strawberries, according to state agricultural data.

In Raleigh, the State Farmer’s Market celebrates Strawberry Day on May 12. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the public can enjoy samples of a strawberry dessert, pick up recipes and see who won the strawberry dessert contest. For more details, call 919-733-7417.

Find a pick-your-own strawberry farm near you with these websites: ncstrawberry.com, ncfarmfresh.com and pickyourown.org/NC.htm

Looking for Strawberry Recipes?

We have some lovely recipes on The Recipe site: nando.com/recipe.

Check out recipes for Strawberry Pie, Strawberry Jam (both no sugar and low sugar), Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries and Cream and that potluck classic: Strawberry Pretzel Salad.

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