Breaking News
More () »

Growing strawberries in South Carolina during the fall? Here's how farmers are doing it

Dorr Farms in Sumter is just one of several farms that is growing these berries during the fall and spring.

SUMTER, S.C. — Rows of blooming strawberries are being picked right beside a pumpkin patch in Sumter. 

It's because Maynard and Marie Dorr of Dorr Farms have taken on the fall strawberry. 

"We've done it in past years, and the people love the strawberries in the spring, they love the strawberries," Maynard Dorr said. "And, in the fall, you can't find good fresh strawberries so we took a chance."

"It's becoming more popular, it's been around for a while," Zack Snipes with Clemson Extension said. "Typically, a normal strawberry season we plant plants in the fall, they go through a little growing phase, they go through a winter dormant scene, and then they wake up in the spring, and they produce a big heavy crop. And then we pull them out and start all over."

Farmers are able to grow fall strawberries because these are actually a bit different. Typically, spring-producing plants are called June-bearing. But the fall berries are grown from a "day-neutral" plant, which allows the berries to produce with less daylight and cooler temperatures. 

RELATED: Find Some Fun: Pelion Peanut Party is this weekend

"That plant is not sensitive - as sensitive - to daylight and so it can fruit whenever," Snipes said. "And then we have to get plants that have been cold acclimated so, typically, they're grown in Canada or the mountains of North Carolina and they get the cold instead of the light - encourages them to flower and fruit."

It's a berry that Dorr Farms said can be rough to grow due to the weather.  

RELATED: Sumter Master Gardeners prep Chocolate Garden for winter

"You have to plant them in early September, you know, you have to watch them with the extreme heat, and then, as it starts to cool down as it has now, every time it goes, you know, gets below freezing, you have to cover them with the frost blanket," Dorr said. "So far, they've done good, they're blooming full of good bright, right berries." 

Dorr added that they just started picking them this week.

The Dorrs said they've had a successful season of growing the fall berry, but they are covering the crops up this week as temperatures are expected to drop near or below freezing. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out