A recent burst of warmth helped to melt much of what was record snowfall in some parts of New Jersey this winter. But temperatures dipped again this week, reminding everyone that spring is not here yet.

The new season does arrive this weekend, however, and state Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher said farmers have been busy in the fields, ready for the season-opening harvest.

"The spring planting schedules are on target, and our farmers are very excited for the weather patterns. What we hope for is just a natural progression of warm weather," Fisher said, cautioning that any extended cold snap might derail things a bit.

But greens like spinach and asparagus will soon be ready for consumption, and in the case of spinach, that's been growing since December, according to Fisher.

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New Jersey specializes in the familiar, green asparagus, although varieties in other colors can be found in the state. It is one of our most plentiful crops.

"New Jersey is fourth in the production of asparagus in the country, and in a number of other crops, we're nationally ranked," Fisher said.

Specifically, the Garden State pushes out 20 million pounds of spinach annually, which is third in the U.S., and is actually first in dandelion production for the commercial market.

Speaking of markets, it isn't just roadside stands that will be selling Jersey produce within weeks.

"The supermarkets and our grocery operators, they're looking for Jersey Fresh just as much as we are in our farm markets and farm stands," Fisher said.

Fisher adds that most people are looking even further forward, to New Jersey's famous summer berries, led by strawberries coming in starting in May.

It all makes up what looks to be a promising few months for people to emerge from the indoors, and from COVID isolation, and enjoy the state's bounty.

"We have Jersey Fresh, Jersey-grown, it's all coming your way, and we're very excited that the farmers are very optimistic about having a great planting season," Fisher said.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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