By Clint Thompson
The current weather crisis in California is impacting Florida’s strawberry harvests. One producer said he is picking additional fruit this time of year amid the floods out west.
“I go until April normally with some of them, but we’re going a little longer than normal because California is in disarray with all the weather they’ve been getting. They want us to hold on longer until California can come in with some fruit,” said Matt Parke, farm manager of Parkesdale Farms in Plant City, Florida. “We’re picking everything. Normally, by now we’re only picking half of it.”
Supply is low as California production has slowed due to flooding in strawberry-producing areas of the state.
“They’re way behind, and they’re getting more weather now. I don’t know when it’s going to clear up for them,” said Parke, who expects to continue harvesting until the end of March or early April.
“It’s been, weather wise, an extremely weird year in California. They haven’t had any weather that could help them out one bit. I’ve got some friends out there, and they’re struggling. It’s going to be a tough one for them,” Parke said.
The additional harvests will help offset market prices that have dropped in recent weeks.
“It’s been decent, but it’s gotten a little cheap over the last couple of weeks,” Parke said. “But it’s still all in all pretty good. It’s not nothing to shake a stick at.”
Production has been good this year, especially during the current dry period that has impacted all of Florida. Most of Florida is either abnormally dry or moderately dry, though some areas are severely dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. These are observed in southern Florida in Collier, Hendry and Palm Beach counties.
“Well, the good thing is it’s dry and there’s less disease. When they’re wet is when we have more disease,” Parke said. “We still need some rain, but we don’t need a bunch of it; replenish the resources but nothing detrimental.”