Slower start marks beginning of Florida strawberry season

12/26/2012 12:20:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Last season, abnormal heat brought a flush of production in December.

“This year is seeing a sluggish start,” Campbell said in early December.

“Some plants are small. It rained during planting and some got planted late. Then it turned cool and the late plantings didn’t grow. It’s hit and miss. Some were picking early while others were waiting for their plants to bloom. We have a little of everything going on this year.”

Grower-shippers say they expect a typical deal.

“So far, the season is comparable to other years,” Shawn Pollard, salesman for Astin Strawberry Exchange LLC, said in mid-December.

“Some fields look great while some have a ways to go.”

Pollard said last season was horrible and said a big glut of fruit brought on by unseasonably warm growing weather crashed prices into single digits. He said the market never rebounded and growers lost money on quality he said was “hit and miss.”

Steve Machell, sales manager for Gulf Coast Produce Inc., Dover, said season quality is strong.

“Everything looks good and the weather has been excellent,” he said in mid-December.

“We have less plant difficulty this year and the product we’re getting from the farms looks beautiful.”

While January and February remain strong shipping months, volume peaks in March with declining shipments by late March and some shipping into early to mid-April, depending on growing season weather, market conditions and California’s seasonal entrance.


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