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Warm February Accelerated Florida Strawberry Growth

Jim Rogers Florida, Strawberry

By Clint Thompson

The unseasonably warm February sparked growth in Florida’s strawberry crop that overwhelmed the market. It was not the ideal scenario for producers like Dustin Grooms with Fancy Farms in Plant City, Florida.

Florida strawberries
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“I definitely think (the warm February) hurt us. We needed a cold front to move through about once a week and we just didn’t see it. There was just so much fruit out there that was ripening at the same time, and it made the market go down,” said Grooms.

He discussed the disappointment further, as weather conditions out west diminished California’s strawberry supply.

“Why did (the market) go down? California should have been out. Two and a half weeks ago, they didn’t want the fruit and now they’re begging for fruit. Why is it always the same ol’ story, I don’t know,” Grooms said. “Unfortunately for us, we had to put a lot of berries in the juice crate because the demand wasn’t there. We had to juice a lot of our fruit and that hurts. The juice deal, you’re basically just trying to keep up with the field as a hope that the market will come back and turn around.

“When you have a lot of supply and things aren’t moving that good, everybody’s kind of in the same sinking boat. It’s just a little disheartening. That weather was bad in California for a while, so why didn’t we get to move all of that volume that we had? It is just a little bit sad.”

The regularity of sunshine and warm temperatures in a month where cool weather should be more prevalent allowed more strawberries to ripen than normal.

“It’s opening the window for us to harvest, but that should be our normal harvest window anyhow. This year’s different just because it was so hot back in February. It just ripened everything on the bush, and it all came in at once,” Grooms said. “We operate off supply and demand, and with all of that weather (California has) had out there, it should be phenomenal, and it’s just not that phenomenal right now.”