By Clint Thompson
Strawberry harvest season continues across South Florida. If the temperatures will increase and the weather stays consistently warm, the current harvests will increase in quantity, believes producer Matt Parke.
“We are sitting on a heavy fruit load, but it’s green. It’s been so cool over here we haven’t come on to that February push yet,” Parke, farm manager of Parkesdale Farms in Plant City, Florida. “If we get some warm weather it’s going to open wide up. We’ve got a lot of berries sitting on a bush, heavy fruit load. There’s just a lot of green berries, a lot of flowers.”
Parke said he and other producers have also had their share of Neopestalotiopsis Fruit Rot disease this year. The disease that was first discovered in five Florida farms during the 2018-19 season causes leaf spots on strawberry plants. It can develop quickly and produce spores on the leaves. It can cause severe leaf spotting and fruit rot under ideal weather conditions.
“If you say you don’t have it, you aren’t looking hard enough,” Parke said. “It’s there, no doubt in my mind. They’ve got it in Mexico. They’ve sure got it in California.
“Some are worse than others, but it’s there. If we get a good rain spell, we’re going to really see it.”
More than 20 farms experienced the disease during the 2019-20 season, and the disease was attributed to two nursery sources early in the season in North Carolina and Canada.
It was discovered the following year in fields that had it the prior season.