It was a very cold spring for North Carolina strawberries, and as a result it is going to be a late than-normal harvest season, said Andy Myers, Crop Research Operations manager at the Piedmont North Carolina Research Station in Salisbury, N.C.

“We did a lot of frost protection this year,” he said. “We may not have had as much frost here as in eastern North Carolina, but it was more than normal,” he said.

And it kept up late. When Southeast Farm Press spoke to him on Good Friday, Myers noted that the station staff had frost protected five of the last six days, including that one. “It was 24 degrees at 4 a.m., and we had been freeze protecting all night.”

There were a few frosts the week ending April 7 in other strawberry-producing areas of the state.

The harvest season will run two to three weeks later than normal in the Piedmont of North Carolina, Myers predicted.

Strawberry yield was reduced in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida by two aphid-borne viruses that rarely occur in strawberries in the Southeast. Strawberry mild yellow edge (SMYEV) and strawberry mottle virus (SMoV) were found in a number of fields in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.

There were few control measures available, other than aphid control.

A region-wide yield loss estimate is not yet available, but one widely quoted projection indicated that in North Carolina, 12 percent of the state’s acres in strawberries were affected by the viruses, reducing production by four percent.

But a good muscadine grape crop could be on the way despite the weather.

“Vines have just started to ‘break’ the bud, “said Whit Jones, a retired Extension agent in southeast North Carolina. (Bud break is the start of a grape vine’s annual growth cycle). “The buds are starting to grow (in early April) and put on leaves.

“This will probably be a later season than we are used to, but cold weather didn’t affect the vines that much.”

Muscadines are not a spring- blooming crop and in fact don’t actually bloom until the first of June, Jones said. So the cold winter affects them less than some other fruit crops. “I don’t see any weather damage at all,” Jones said.