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Knoxville – A University of Tennessee researcher said Monday that Tennessee’s strawberry crop looks excellent as the annual berry harvest approaches.

Dr. David Lockwood, a fruit specialist with the UT Agricultural Extention Service, said most growers took steps to prevent frost damage during recent cold snaps and, with sufficient sunshine over the next few weeks, should have a good harvest.

“Most growers were set up for frost protection when we had the cold weather a few weeks ago,” Lockwood said, “so farmers were able to prevent frost damage to their strawberries.”

Growers in Tennessee plant about 700 acres of strawberries annually, Lockwood said, with a market value of $3-5 million.

Lockwood said strawberries are increasingly popular among state fruit growers as an alternative crop.

“Strawberries have an advantage over other fruit crops in that they have a quicker turnaround from the time you plant to the time you harvest,” Lockwood said.

Prime picking season for strawberries continues through June 10, he said.