Cold temperatures threaten early strawberry crop


ROCKY POINT, NC (WWAY) —  With the usually warm weather we’ve seen this winter Lewis Farms is planning to open earlier than normal.

Owner Cal Lewis says the threat of freezing temperatures next week is quite a concern though.

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Above average temperatures prevailed mid January into February has now caused the local strawberry crop to be three weeks ahead of schedule.

Lewis says an early season isn’t a bad thing but it does increase the risk.

“It’s a very abnormal year,” Lewis said. “This is the earliest in history that strawberries have been produced in North Carolina.”

The stand in Ogden plans to open March 24 which typically doesn’t open until April. The stand was originally going to open sooner, but some of the coldest air we have yet to see is set to arrive next week so they decided to hold off.

Using row covers and irrigation, Lewis hopes his fruit will make it through the cold weather because if it does, it could the best season yet.

“A strawberry plant, if a blossom gets killed it keeps coming back until the weather gets hot in the summer,” Lewis said. “A blueberry blossom is a one shot deal.”

One way Lewis has expanded his production during the off season is by using solar tunnels. This is an expensive but valuable addition to have business almost year round.

“I got interested in it to extend our season and have something for our employees during the winter,” Lewis said.

The blueberry and blackberry crops will likely be two to three weeks ahead of schedule as well.

The Ogden stand hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday thru Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays.