Strawberry Volume Expected to Increase This Week in Sunny Central Florida

Clint ThompsonFlorida, Strawberry

By Clint Thompson

A week of expected sunshine should boost strawberry volume in central Florida, according to one grower.

Matt Parke, farm manager of Parkesdale Farms in Plant City, Florida, said multiple days of sunshine are needed to help boost what has been a stagnant crop.

“This weather this week should help dry everything out, get some berries off the bush,” Parke said. “It looks like the berries are there, but will we get them off and will they all come off at the same time? There’s a lot of questions. This next week is going to weed them out, I think. We’re going to have five days of 75 to 80 (degrees Fahrenheit). The floodgates are going to open up.”

Marketing Your Crop

With an expected increase in volume, growers will feel the pressure to ensure their crop has a home following harvest.

“If you’re not properly sold going into it, you need to know what you’re looking at. If you’re not properly sold going into it, the market’s going to crash, and if you’re not sold, you’re going to have to send berries out less than your picking costs are,” Parke said. “Then you have to make that decision to keep on picking, and if you do, do you strip or do you pick?”

Parke said volume had picked up leading into Valentine’s Day and a few days afterwards. But then cooler weather combined with a heavy rain event slowed production considerably. It is evident in how many flats are being picked per acre.

“I’ve got to get my average up. I think right now we’re only at 2,200 to the acre, and normally I’m pushing the latter end of 2,000, low end of 3,000,” Parke said. “This is non-typical to me. We should have already been through this flush of berries, on the downfall of it right now going into March. But it’s going to push us through, and I think we’re going to have heavy fruit going into the first of March. Normally, we’re falling going into the first of March and come back on towards the second week with another flush. But it’s pushing it late this year.”

Parke is hopeful his crop will last another month.

“I’m hoping to go to April. I need to go to April,” Parke said.