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It’s a berry good time in Arkansas

Picture of strawberry flats

HAPPY FOOD -- Flats of strawberries donated by Bill Landreth. The warm spring accelerated the berry crop by 2-3 weeks in Arkansas. (U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture photo by Mary Hightower)

Fast facts

  • Arkansas strawberry crop is nearing peak
  • Crop delayed by cold spring

(400 words)

LITTLE ROCK -- Just in time for Mother’s Day, the strawberry crop in Arkansas is coming in full force, which should provide consumers with fresh, tasty berries for the next few weeks.

“It should be starting to hit a peak this week,” said Ron Rainey, an economist at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Center for Agriculture and Rural Sustainability. “They’re not anticipating it to be a very long crop, but the size and quality of the strawberries should be good.”

Because of cold weather across the state that continued well into spring, the strawberry crop is coming in a little bit later than normal.

The weather “was just so up and down that the yield on them is going to be shorter,” said Barbara Armstrong, a grower and market manager at the Argenta Farmers Market in North Little Rock. “We are at 50 percent of where were last year at this time.”

Picture of strawberry rows

BERRY GOOD -- Strawberries await picking at Bill Landreth's farm at Newport, Ark., (U of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture photo by Terra Daniels)

“It slowed up a little bit because of the weather, but now they’re coming up,” said Sue Gillihan, who grows strawberries with her husband, Tom, near Judsonia, Carlisle and Georgetown.

She said strawberry plants that were covered during cold weather are now producing ripe strawberries, but those that weren’t covered are coming in more slowly, which should extend the season later in the month.

According to estimates from Jim Goodons, president of the id-America Strawberry Growers Association, about 100 acres of strawberries are being cultivated this year in Arkansas.

That compares to about 40,000 acres planted in California, which accounts for nearly 90 percent of U.S. strawberry production.

Much of Arkansas production is sold locally, at roadside stands and farmers markets. One place to find strawberries in metro Little Rock is the Argenta Farmers Market, which is having a strawberry festival on Mother’s Day weekend, Armstrong said.

People looking to find fresh berries can also use the Arkansas Market Maker Web site, which allows them to search for both farmers markets and growers in their area. “Market Maker is a wonderful tool to help consumers find local growers and farmers markets,” Rainey said.

Growers/markets not yet registered for Market Maker can also register to put their information on the site. The address is

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

By Rich Shumate
For the Cooperative Extension Service
U of A Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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