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Strawberries out early, but frost could turn them to mush

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- As people consider going out to pick strawberries this weekend, farmers are concerned about losing the remaining fruit to protect the plants from a possible frost overnight Thursday.

The warm winter brought the strawberry crop in about two weeks early.

"It is unusual to have strawberries this time of year," said James Kenan with Bernie's Berries in Greensboro.

Kenan said April frost is normally dealt with by using sprinklers, which help coat the plants, shielding it from the frost. The coating usually is conducted before berries ever ripe on the plants.

But, with berries already ripe this year, it's feared sprinklers will turn strawberries into "mush," saving the plant but not the fruit.

"It's not something we want to do as far as putting water on, but we have to do it to save the crop," said Kenan, who's been farming since the early 1970s.

Strawberry farmers hope temperatures will stay above 37 degrees, and, if not, the wind will keep the frost from settling.

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