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It’s Strawberry Season in the Sandhills!

A February warm up, a March cold snap and epic April rains did not bode well for strawberries, but despite the less-than-ideal weather, local strawberry farms are now well-stocked with berries.

The average strawberry season lasts six to eight weeks, beginning early April and ending around Mother’s Day, but this year, the season has started a little later.

“Looks like a really good season,” says Harvey Godfrey who with his wife and two sons operate Moore County’s only certified organic berry farm, Olde Carthage Farm. “We might even have Ruby Junes, a late variety.”  Ruby Junes and other late bloomers are generally smaller but the sweetest – ideal for smoothies and jam.

The C.V. Pilson Farm’s produce shop on Old U.S. 1 in downtown Southern Pines is now open.  Karefree Farms in Carthage has been selling pre-picked berries for two weeks. Their U-pick field near the farm store is now open.  At Highlanders Farm in Carthage, customers can finish off their picking with a homemade strawberry ice cream cone, made with berries grown onsite.

U-pickers are advised to wear long sleeves, long pants, socks and sturdy footwear. Hats, sunscreen and bug spray help. Always call ahead, as weather and availability can affect hours of operation.

North Carolina is fourth in strawberry production in the U.S., with more than 2,000 acres under cultivation, mainly family operations that supply farmers’ markets, farm stands, supermarkets and restaurants. Carolina berries are picked when ripe. Unlike pears and cantaloupes, they do not ripen further. Leaving berries at room temperature overnight may soften a slightly under-ripe batch making them seem sweeter.

Be sure to check out these Moore County farms for the best berries!

Highlander’s Farm and Homemade Ice Cream
John Blue, Owner
5784 NC Hwy 22, Carthage, NC
4 mi. North of Moore County Airport
910-947-5831 – Call for recorded message of picking schedule
Open middle of April Tues. thru Fri. 8am-6pm
Sat 8am-3pm (Open some Mondays throughout season)
Also available:  Vegetables, English cucumbers and early greenhouse tomatoes

Karefree Produce 
Jeffrey & Karen Frye, Owners
4680 US Hwy 15/501, Carthage, NC
910-639-4971 or 910-690-6722
Open middle of April Mon. thru Sat. 7am-7pm

Carter Farms
Billy Carter, Owner
673 Eagle Springs Rd., Eagle Springs, NC
Open middle of April Mon. thru Sat. from 8-5pm
Also available:  Vegetables

Pressley Farms Berry Patch 
Richard Pressley, Owner
One mile east of Carthage at 995 Union Ch. Rd. Cameron, NC
910-947-1154 (stand) or 910-947-2735 (home)
Open middle of April Mon. thru Sat. 7:30am-6pm
Also available:  Seasonal vegetables

CV Pilson Strawberries and Flowers
Chester Pilson and Cliff Pilson, Owners
116 Sweet Lane Cypress Ch. Rd. Cameron, NC
910-783-6572 or 910-783-4462 or 910-245-4285
Open middle of April Mon. thru Sat. 7:30am to 5:30pm
Also available:  Flower and Vegetable plants

The Berry Patch
Tim Bryant, Owner
444 Bryant Rd. Carthage, NC
Open Middle of April Mon. thru Sat. 8am-6pm
Also available:  Vegetables

Ring’s Strawberry Farm
Lewis Ring, Owner
937 Airport Rd., Lakeview, NC
1 mile east of Moore County Airport
910-949-2657 (farm) 910-690-8914 (cell)
Open Middle of April Mon. Wed. Sat. 7:30am –Until (Call for other days)
Also available:  Vegetables

Triple L Farms
Jim & Joe Lambeth, Owners
Farm:  2205 Derby Rd. Ellerbe, NC; Stand: Corner of Hwy 5 & Ampersand Dr., Aberdeen, NC
Open middle of April 7 days a week 9am-6:30pm
Also available: Berries and seasonal vegetables

(Original story by Deborah Salomon at The Pilot 4/25/19)

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