Doug OhlemeierThe recent spate of cold weather has slowed Florida strawberry production. Growers, however, expect adequate volume for Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day promotions and say retailers can plan for heavier volume beginning in late February and early March.The recent spate of cold weather has slowed Florida strawberry production.
In early February, prices remain strong as grower-shippers resume production.
During the last two weeks of January, Plant City, Fla.-based Astin Strawberry Exchange LLC was only able to pick four days out of the week, said Shawn Pollard, salesman.
Pollard said he can’t remember the last time that happened.
Still, growers expect adequate volume for Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day promotions and say retailers can plan for heavier volume beginning in late February and early March, he said.
“We picked very little in January,” Pollard said Feb. 3. “It was a missed opportunity as the cold weather slowed things. It stayed cold and was rough. We just couldn’t supply people.”
CampbellGrowers didn’t pack as many berries in December as they did last season, when production was almost too high, said Ted Campbell, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, Dover.
“We haven’t had any damage but not vigorous growth either,” Campbell said in early February. “What we saw was confused plants and the effects of cold weather in typical distortions of the fruit. Then you have depressed blooming and slow maturity. January was a very unusual month but hopefully, we are out of that weather pattern.”
On Feb. 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported flats of 8 1-pound clamshells from central Florida selling for $10.90-14.90 with contracted product fetching $16.90.
That compares to mid-December when those same flats medium-large from central Florida sold for $18.90.
The USDA reports light demand.