Record Florida March strawberry volume expected

03/02/2010 02:56:22 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

The USDA reported flats of 8 1-pound clamshells medium/large selling for $10.90-14.90, down from $14.90-16.90 in late February.

Last year in late February, the USDA reported flats of 8 1-pound clamshells medium large and flats 12 1-pint baskets selling for $12.90-14.90.

Smith said growers expect larger than normal volumes during the latter part of March and that retailers are expressing a lot of interest in big promotions for the April 4 Easter holiday.

“With the cool weather and the quality we have had, the strawberry plants and fruit should remain good and strong for a couple of weeks extra than normal,” he said in early March.  “We will be returning to normal. We’re not talking about getting extra production because the market has been so short. We will be glad to be back to normal movement compared to where it has been.”

While Florida’s winter strawberry deal normally runs through early to mid-April, Smith said BBI’s grower-owners could continue pickings an extra couple of weeks if weather and markets cooperate.

BBI’s growers normally begin decreasing pickings during the first week of April and finish by the middle of the month.

Wholesalers say the weather problems have hurt their distribution.

“The volume is really not there, in California or Mexico either as California has had its weather issues as well,” said Andrew Scott, sales and procurement manager for General Produce Inc., Atlanta. “It has been tough trying to get truckloads out of Plant City this season.”

Wishnatzki said Florida strawberry volume to-date has been off by 55%-60% and that pickings have been slipping a little every day.

In season to-date shipments, the USDA reported central Florida shipping 55.8 million pounds through late February this season vs. 110 million pounds the region shipped in late February last season.

Wishnatzki said berries should resume growth once central Florida receives several consecutive days of high temperatures in the 70s and overnight lows in the 50s.

He said the region has experienced too many cold mornings and that forecasts show more overnight temperatures falling into the 30s March 3-5.


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