Strawberry growers prepare for more favorable early December - The Packer

Strawberry growers prepare for more favorable early December

11/04/2011 11:41:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Last year, the season got a late start as cold weather delayed early production and kept supplies low during the early parts of December, when Florida’s berries can be at their highest demand during the start of the Sunshine State’s winter window.

Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer of Wish Farms, said California this fall experienced unusual early rains, which could keep the strawberry market tight into November and December, before Florida’s production begins in volume.

“Though not unheard of, the unusual rains could affect their (California’s) bloom and volume,” Wishnatzki said in mid-October. 

“I would expect the early market will probably be good this year, based on California’s weather patterns.”

A December 2010 freeze kept Florida growers awake all night running irrigation systems to form ice domes that protect their berries from freezing. Though growers didn’t sustain large damage, the constant cold delayed production.

Ted Campbell, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association, Dover, said he expects growers to harvest from 11,000 planted acres, up from 10,000 acres growers harvested last season.

“Most growers believe there is now an additional 1,000 acres, and possibly a bit more,” Campbell said. 

“And there its certainly more land targeted for growth in the near future. The good news is the growers are obviously bullish on the winter strawberry market, and unproductive citrus areas are still being converted.” 

Those 11,000 acres should produce around 27 million flats of eight 1-pound clamshells, up from the nearly 25 million flats the deal produced in 2010-11, Campbell said.

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