Up and down season for local strawberries

Posted at 8:09 PM, May 16, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-16 20:09:16-04

Chesapeake, Va. - Strawberry season is here, but it hasn't been the best year for some farmers in Hampton Roads, partly due to the weather.

NewsChannel 3 stopped by Lilley Farms in Chesapeake Thursday, and we weren't the only ones.

"They must put something in the soil because they are so sweet," said Toni Dorn of Portsmouth. She was one of many who pulled up to the farm to get that sweet taste of strawberries grown right here in Hampton Roads. But while a lot of the berries are juicy and ripe now, the weather roller coaster ride we've seen this year has set some local farmers back.

"We'd have, you know, days where it's cold and rainy, and it's just put everybody behind. And we're just not getting all of the berries that we would like to have this time of the year," said Carolyn Lilley.

Lilley and her family have been growing strawberries for nearly 10 years.  While last year was a great year for their crop, the cool weather we saw this Spring delayed some of the growth and they got off to a slow start.

And If that wasn't enough, now the weather is warming up.  Typically, strawberries do well with temperatures in the mid-70s this time of the year. But if it gets even warmer for a few days in a row, strawberry season could be cut short.

"It's too hot for too long. The plants will shut down and they won't produce anymore flowers," said Lilley.

For some local farmers, this hasn't been the best year for strawberries. For others, it hasn't been too bad. But of course, it all depends on Mother Nature. In fact, farmers are at the mercy of the weather, whether it's hot or cold and they have to adjust.

"It is what it is. It's nature. With any kind of crop, nothing's ever perfect," said Lilley.

For now, strawberry farmers are keeping a close eye on the weather and their crop.

Lilley suggests that you call ahead before going to any fruit or vegetable stand to make sure that provider has what you want and need.

By the way, the 30th Annual Pungo Strawberry Festival will take place Memorial Day weekend in Virginia Beach.