Hyman also raises muscadine grapes, tomatoes and squash and sells them--along with produce he obtains from neighbors--at a stand at the Pee Dee State Farmers Market in nearby Florence. He was glad that foot traffic at the market was picking up in April.

“The business in January and February was extremely slow compared to past years, but that was when we had the cold weather. It has improved considerably since then. The customers came with the weather.”

His muscadines, he said, had “broken bud” already and there was no visible damage from the cold. One surprising note: He pruned relatively early in the year, which brings on bud breaking. But he noticed that on some neighboring vineyards that had been pruned much later than his were just as far along in bud development as his.

Value-added products continue to be a very valuable addition to marketing at farmers markets, and the search is on for new products with appeal.

“This year we have added some specialty sauces and marinades,” said Hyman. “Most of them come from old family recipes. These are seasonal products that provide something to sell over the winter.”

He already had products like jams, jellies, ciders and pickles.

In other fruit and vegetable developments, “Mummy” blueberries began to show up in North Carolina in March, said Bill Cline, North Carolina State University Extension plant pathologist. Mummy berries are caused by a fungal disease which turns the fruit pink or salmon. It doesn’t appear every year but was found in 2013.