Cold weather delays strawberry harvest

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by Arrianee LeBeau, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 5:25 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 21 at 5:41 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH-- For six generations, the Cullipher family has taken pride in the fruits and vegetables they offer the community. However, this year, after an extended cold snap, farmer Mike Cullipher is scrambling to save the family’s crops.

Thursday, Cullipher was covering the strawberry fields in the Pungo section of Virginia Beach to try and keep the berries warm.

“It builds up the heat from the sun during the day and it helps retain that overnight. It’ll give us about a five or six degree increase in temperature under the blanket,” said Cullipher.

Even with the row covers, the frigid temperatures have already stunted the crops' growth and caused harvest time to be pushed back from April to May.

“We are just really behind and the strawberry plants are just kind of in neutral, just sitting still.  They are not doing a whole lot, and they should be growing and blooming and making small fruit,” said Cullipher. 

For farmers, not only is their berry crop not coming in yet, the income they were expecting isn’t coming in either. 

“We actually work year-round, but 80 percent of our income comes within a five-month period, and strawberries is a very large part of that,” said Cullipher. 

Cullipher was expecting to open up the farm in 30 days for picking. He said there’s no doubt in his mind the strawberries will eventually grow but now it's a matter of when.

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