Strawberry season brings joy, strong harvest in Randolph County

Strawberry season is a time for reunions for Sarah Beal of Kildee Farm in Ramseur.

“I get to see a lot of people I haven’t seen since last year,” Beal said.

Beal is the mother of Kildee Farm owner Michael Beal, but she pretty much runs the operation on site. 

“We’ve had a good six weeks and that’s normal,” Sarah Beal said. “It has been OK. We haven’t lost a lot because of the rain.”

Kildee Farm, which has about 2 ½ acres of strawberries, had its last day for sales Monday. For the final days, strawberries were only available pre-picked, though at other times u-pick is available as well.

Meanwhile at Whitaker Farms in Climax, the strawberry season is ongoing – and that’s a good thing.

Josh and Cathy Johnson (holding Sarah) check out the strawberry fields at Whitaker Farms. (PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL)

“For us, we’ve had a nice season,” said Faylene Whitaker, one of the owners of the family operation. “We still have two or three weeks of picking.”

It’s a precious time for strawberry farms in the region.

“It’s such a limited time,” Whitaker said. “That’s why everybody in North Carolina gets so excited.”

Generally, strawberry season lasts six to eight weeks, Whitaker said.

For Whitaker Farms, the strawberry part of the business is relatively small, albeit overly popular. About seven acres is dedicated to strawberries at Whitaker Farms.

But the business also is heavy in growing corn, field tomatoes, pumpkins, soybean, wheat and organic tobacco. Plus, there’s a garden center with flowers.

Strawberries, though, are a popular topic. And when it goes as well as it has this spring for Whitaker Farms, it brings a lot of joy.

“I think the Good Lord blessed us,” Whitaker said. “For the year, we planted apparently at the right time and covered up at the right time. You can do the same thing (on a similar schedule) in another year and it doesn’t work out.”

Strawberry season is here, and you can pick strawberries from the fields at Whitaker Farms in Climax. (PJ WARD-BROWN/NORTH STATE JOURNAL)

Whitaker Farms is open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. There are times when customers aren’t permitted in the fields, though the you-pick option is available most of the time. Some customers might opt for pre-picked cartons.

Also popular for many strawberry pickers in the area is Ingram’s Strawberries Farm in High Point, just across the county line in Guilford County.

With the season winding down, Beal said most of Kildee Farm’s customers had secured enough strawberries for freezing. 

“If you get a day in June, it’s a bonus,” she said of the Memorial Day closing. “Now they’re just getting a few to eat.”

By Bob Sutton