Challenges of Florida Strawberry Production

Web AdminFlorida, Strawberry, Top Posts

By Clint Thompson

Strawberry production in Florida is not for the faint of heart. So many challenges exist that growers must overcome to remain sustainable. Just ask Florida farmer Dustin Grooms.

“If you’ve got a berry field, you’ve got a problem,” Grooms said.

Florida Strawberry
Credit ~ UF/IFAS

Grooms and other farmers are in the middle of another strawberry season. Production has increased some this year despite various challenges. Grooms outlined some of those obstacles.

“We’ve picked a little bit more berries than we had last year at this point, but nothing impressive. Prices dropped a little bit lower than what we were hoping. The chilli thrips have been horrendous. Certain nurseries have spider mites that are getting harder to kill,” Grooms said. “Neopestalotiopsis hasn’t been bad this year. It is out here in the industry. There are some nurseries that might have it worse than others. We’ve been pretty lucky not to have a lot. But there’s definitely a lot of leaf spots out here that look suspicious.

“I would say growing in Florida would be more difficult than growing in other regions just because of the climate. We’ve got different insect pressures and different elements of nature that we’re going through here.”

While production continues to challenge strawberry producers in the Sunshine State, external factors like trade and input costs remain a serious issue.

“(Trade is) always a problem. Mexico picked a fair amount. When they did that, the price dropped here,” Grooms said. “The input costs of stuff this year, it’s bad. I don’t know if it’s doubled, but we’re paying a lot more for spray materials and everything else.”