Strawberry season comes early in the 252

Farmers in eastern North Carolina say strawberries already are ripe for the picking -- a couple of weeks early.

Strawberries on 903 farmers Mike Skinner and Steve McLawhorn say this is the earliest strawberry season they’ve seen in their 17 years of growing berries.

And Carolina Country Fresh in Bethel notes on their Facebook page that the first ripe strawberries were picked in their field on March 23. "A record for us," the post said.

The strawberry season in the 252 usually is from mid-April through the month of May.

“We had a warm February and that really sped things up for us,” Mike Skinner says in a blog post on the Strawberries on 903 website.“There were a few cold nights in the past couple of weeks that had us concerned, but the berries fared well and everything is looking really good!”

You can pick your own berries, or buy prepicked berries, at these area farms.

The weather may affect the crop or make the fields too muddy for picking. It's a good idea to check the farm's Facebook page or call before heading out to pick.

The Berry Patch, 7375 U.S. 26, Robersonville, 252-795-4903

This pick-your-own strawberry patch in Robersonville, operated by Carolina Country Fresh, isn't open yet. Check the Facebook page for updates.

Brock's Berries & Produce Farm, 862 Laurie Ellis Road, Winterville, 252-321-2197

"We will have set hours as soon as we get a little more into the season," a Brock's employee said in an email. Right now, Facebook is the best way" to check out the schedule.

Carolina Country Fresh, 280 House Road on Highway 11, Bethel, 252-825-2926

Current hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays, and 1:30 -5 p.m. Sundays

Creekside Fresh Pickings, 1112-C Kingold Blvd., Snow Hill, 252-917-2561

Beginning April 1, hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays

Southside Farms, 320 Harding Lane, Chocowinity, 252-946-2487

Current hours are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays

Strawberries on 903, 4084 N.C. 903 South, Winterville, 252-321-3204

Current hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays

Photo from Strawberries on 903 Facebook page