Virginia Beach, Va. – It’s that time of year again – picking strawberries in our local fields. But although those berries are sweet and juicy now, the wacky weather we’ve seen this year has had a lot of folks concerned.
“This is what I would consider a late start to the season. Most growers are just now getting open and producing a good crop,” said Roy Flanagan, Agriculture Extension Agent for the City of Virginia Beach.
Flanagan was just one of many who gathered in Pungo Thursday to prepare for this year’s Pungo Strawberry Festival. This year’s theme is “31 Years of Fun in the Sun.” But the sun wasn’t what most farmers got for their crop this year. Instead, it was a lot of cold, rainy and snowy weather that had local farmers worried that their crop wouldn’t be as good.
“That’s a pins and needles moment for the farmers because they’re out looking for their crop and checking for signs of frost as well as watching the temperatures,” said Flanagan.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says that the cold delayed this year’s strawberry crop by one to three weeks in many farms in the Commonwealth.
Although the weather has improved this spring in Hampton Roads, farmers and festival organizers don’t want a repeat of what happened last year when rain flooded the fields and mud was everywhere.
“The last two years, starting in the winter/late spring, we had an enormous amout of rain, which caused a lot of our fields where we park, the fields where we have the carnivals, the fields where we set up vendors and entertainment acts were virtually flooded, so that was our big concern,” said Todd Jones, Chairman of the Pungo Strawberry Festival.
But now that the weather has turned around, the strawberries are sweeter than ever, making many folks optimistic for a good festival this year.
“If we can have some dry spells and still get the rain we need but still have the fields in workable conditions, we should have a great festival,” said Jones.