The N.C. Strawberry Project is a partnership of N.C. State University's Plants for Human Health Institute and Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte. This project received support from the Golden LEAF Foundation.
Strawberry season lasts four to six weeks in North Carolina. It begins in the coastal area in early April, in the Piedmont in late April and in the mountains in late May.
|Production value:||$20.8 million|
|Pounds of berries:||19.5 million|
|National ranking:||4th (following CA, FL and OR)|
|N.C. strawberry operations:||400|
|N.C. agriculture industry:||$74 billion (#1 industry in N.C.)|
N.C. State’s Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus is working to extend the growing season for N.C. strawberries by breeding an N.C. strawberry suitable for the state’s climate.
Currently, there are three main varieties of berries grown in North Carolina. Each of these varieties was originally developed for CA and FL growing conditions, making them more of a compromise than a solution for N.C. strawberry growers:
Camarosa is primarily grown in eastern North Carolina for pre-pick operations, but is gaining popularity as a U-pick variety.
Chandler is currently the standard cultivar for U-pick producers in North Carolina. It is the most reliable variety for the upper Piedmont and western parts of the state, where temperatures stay cooler longer.
Sweet Charlie is a variety grown in North Carolina for its early-season yields. In general, Sweet Charlie makes up the minority of strawberries grown in the state.
Through the N.C. Strawberry Project, researchers at N.C. State’s Plants for Human Health Institute will work with chefs and students at Johnson & Wales University, as well as growers and consumers across the state, to identify ideal strawberry characteristics, like flavor, color, texture and size. The N.C. State strawberry breeding program, led by Dr. Jeremy Pattison, will incorporate those traits into a made-for-North Carolina strawberry using traditional breeding methods. Future N.C. berries may be even tastier and available for a longer period during the year!
Strawberries are a super source of nutrition, providing:
Antioxidants: help reduce the chance of heart disease and cancer.
Fiber: lowers the risk of heart disease and supports digestion.
Phytonutrients: aid in the prevention of cancer and diabetes.
Potassium: helps maintain blood pressure, aids muscle contractions.
Vitamin C: promotes healthy gums, teeth and bones.
The N.C. Cooperative Extension component of PHHI, with a grant from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, developed the Strawberry Growers Information Portal to bring together on one website all the resources pertaining to production, management and marketing of strawberries; a “one-stop shop.”
New growers will find resources specific to start-up, while all growers will recognize the convenience of the weather/climate links. Video demonstrations of production tools and interactive budget spreadsheets are just two examples of the “virtual” resources this dynamic site offers.
Extension agents and growers can find research-based information specific to North Carolina strawberry production on this site from a variety of academic and scientific disciplines.