PLANT CITY, Fla. — Buyers can look for this season’s Florida strawberry deal to begin earlier with promotable volumes.
After harvesting typically begins in late November, Florida volume usually slowly builds in early and mid-December, bringing promotable volume in late December.
Because of earlier maturing fruit this year, however, retailers can count on Christmas promotions, said Shawn Pollard, a salesman for Astin Strawberry Exchange LLC.
“We should have ample supplies of high-quality fruit,” he said in late October. “We should hit full stride (in harvesting) Dec. 20-24. The crop looks really good. Initially, some of the fruit may be a bit smaller in sizings but as we get into that first week of December, we will have some high-quality fruit.”
To get a bit of a jump on the early market, Pollard said grower Sam Astin planted some fruit about 10 days earlier than normal.
Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer of Wish Farms, said this year should bring stronger early volume.
Wishnatzki said he expects high production volume in late November and early December.
He said Wish Farms plans to market more plug plants, ones with further developed roots that bloom faster.
“We should have an earlier surge than usual but we will have some later fields coming online later due to replanting and some of the way we planned the timing,” Wishnatzki said in late October. “Out of our 1,500 acres, about a third of it should be in production by that first week of December.”
Wish Farms has increased its acreage by up to 20% and Wishnatzki said he expects the state’s acreage should increase by a similar amount.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, flats of eight 1-pound containers with lids of medium-large strawberries from Oxnard, Calif., were selling for $12-13 in late October.
Last year in mid-October, the USDA reported flats of eight 1-pound containers with lids of small and medium strawberries from Salinas, Calif., and Watsonville, Calif., selling for $9-10.
Florida typically harvest in big volume through March with the deal finishing by mid-April.