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      Strawberries ready and ripe early this season

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - Record high temperatures in the Midlands have strawberries in full bloom three weeks earlier than expected.

      Strawberry season generally begins in mid April, however, this year the berries were ready to go in late March.

      Joy Cottle owns Cottle Strawberry Farms in Lower Richland County and has been growing berries for decades. Cottle hasnâ??t had to open this early in 20 years.

      â??I came out here to clean up thinking that I had another three weeks to get ready,â?? said Cottle. â??All of a sudden I looked around and said 'Oh, my goodness' Iâ??ve got to go ahead and open up now.â??

      Myles Smith has been bringing his daughters to the Cottle farm to pick strawberries since they were young. He says itâ??s a great way to teach them about the importance of fresh foods.

      â??Itâ??s good for them. Itâ??s healthy. Itâ??s not as sweet as ice cream but you can eat it with short cake,â?? said Smith. â??They like to get exercise and time together as a family.â??

      Cottle says weather permitting she is hopeful that the farm will stay open through May.