Peak Season for Florida Strawberries

Clint ThompsonFlorida, Strawberry

By Clint Thompson

South Florida strawberries are almost in peak season. For one grower, his volume should be in place to satisfy the potential increased demand.

“We’ve got a lot of fruit sitting out there. I’ve probably got 2,000 flats sitting on the bush right now, sitting there, per acre,” said Matt Parke, farm manager of Parkesdale Farms in Plant City, Florida. “I’d like to be around 3,000 going into March, but I’ll probably be about 2,500 to 2,800 I’m guessing.

“Our peak season starts around Feb. 10. It’s part of that Valentine’s push. All of February is our big push. Then we have another one that comes in March, but it’s not as big as this one. Our Valentine’s Day push is our biggest of the year.”

The increased volume was a sight to behold for Parke, who was impacted by rain and persistent clouds in January. The lack of sunshine led to Parke and other producers being initially behind with their volume.

Hopefully, for Parke, that is a thing of the past, and he can continue to capitalize on the market with increased supply.

“Money’s been good, though. We’ve got high money average on the flats we’ve had so far, which is a plus,” Parke said. “When we’re picking less it costs us more. When we’re picking more, it costs us less. We’ve got to pay the pickers by piece. When they’re picking more, they’re actually making less per box, so our overhead goes down, even though our bills are higher. But production wise, our overhead goes down. They’re picking faster, and they’re picking more.”