Strawberry growers worry cold could wipe out crop

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DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- John Hedgecock's strawberry blooms survived the chill of early March. But as we move into mid-March, Hedgecock is really worried about the cold air that's in the forecast for this week.

"I've never have experienced the weather getting down in the low 20s and teens [at this point in the growing season],” Hedgecock said.

Just like a blanket, row covers are keeping 60,000 strawberry plants warm. But the few plants that have been exposed to the cold, the blooms and any chance of producing a strawberry died.

"Here on this plant we have 18 dead blooms. That's a loss," Hedgecock said of one of the plants.

Hedgecock is hoping the cold won't damage any more plants on his Davidson County farm. But with lows this week dropping into the low 20s and perhaps teens, he feels the outcome of North Carolina's strawberry season will depend on this week.

"It means a lot to the state -- strawberries do -- and it’s going to make a big effect. I think this week we will find out how this coming weather will do to us," Hedgecock said.

If the strawberry blooms survive this week, Hedgecock will have strawberries in early April.