(UPDATED COVERAGE, Aug. 16) PLANT CITY, Fla. — Florida’s strawberry growers are focusing on how they can work to improve production.
At the Florida Strawberry Growers Association’s Agritech 2012. Aug. 14-15, Ted Campbell, the Dover-based association’s executive director, told growers the group works to improve their efforts.
Doug OhlemeierDaniel Poppell (left), assistant farm manager for Grimes Produce Co. LLC, Plant City, Fla., talks with Sam Astin III, president and owner of the Plant City-based Astin Strawberry Exchange LLC during the Aug. 14-15 Agritech strawberry grower meetings. The meetings gave Florida’s strawberry growers information on production research and other challenges. “We have so many uncontrolled obstacles coming at us now,” Campbell said. “We need to really pursue production efficiently. That’s one thing you can control. I know it doesn’t seem like it, but retailers are still increasing berry sales.”
Campbell cited data released in February by the Nielsen Co. and the Perishables Group, West Dundee, Ill., (now the Nielsen Perishables Group) showing strawberry retail sales increasing 9% over the past year, maintaining a 53% category market share.
The association’s funding for breeding improvement has risen from $30,000 in the mid-1990s to more than $400,000 planned this year, he said.
Andy McDonald, the association’s president and farming operations manager of Sweet Life Farms LLC, lamented a bitter 2012 season.
“We are coming off one of the worst years in recent memory,” McDonald said. “I think we all agree it was bad for the industry as a whole.”
In its 30th year, the show attracted 250-300 participants, similar to past years, Campbell said.
The association’s new website, flastrawberry.com, went online Aug. 13 and offers marketing, production, research and education information as well as industry news and events, said Sue Harrell, association director of marketing.
“It’s been totally revamped and it looks beautiful,” she said. “We’ve also added a blog to provide timely industry information.”