VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Whether the strawberries are still blooming or are already ripened, strawberry farmers in the Pungo section of the city are looking forward to seeing the fruits of their labor this summer.
Recent cold weather damaged crops in North Carolina, but Virginia Beach farmers said they expect a solid season.
“In the year we're coming off of, 2020,” Flanagan Farms owner Roy Flanagan said, “was probably the most ideal year we’ve had for strawberry production. "
Flanagan is also an agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, a statewide agency with local offices that provides communities with information and resources on agriculture.
“We started early and we went late, so compared to last year,” Flanagan explained, “we’re a little behind, but I feel we are on a more normal schedule this year."
Over at nearby Flip Flop Farms, farm handler Rachel Clark was picking red strawberries off the rows of bushels.
“No delay; it’s about the right time of the year that they should be blooming and everything,” Clark said.
Even during a confusing pandemic, which continues, both farms worked hard to keep their livelihoods. Strawberry production is a cash crop in Pungo.
“For us, the biggest thing we had to do last year was come to terms and figure out a way to accommodate the new restrictions on social distancing,” Flanagan said.
Both farms operate on a direct-to-consumer format where visitors will go to the farms and pick the strawberries themselves.
“They could be socially distanced because we were able; every other row, we sectioned off so nobody can go down there,” Clark explained.
While the season appears positive, some factors that could disrupt the production is weather, disease or even infection. The last two factors, according to Flanagan, do not look likely at this point.
“Most of the issues, usually with disease, come from your plant source,” Flanagan said. “So, we would’ve known about this in the fall, and we’re not seeing that."
They are seeing healthy crops and are optimistic for the season.
“Hopefully our season does really good this year,” Clark said. “Hopefully everybody can get out and enjoy the weather and the weather is good for everyone and good for the berries as well."