Adverse Weather Conditions Challenging Florida Strawberry Producers

Clint ThompsonFlorida, Strawberry

By Clint Thompson

Wet weather in recent weeks has challenged strawberry production in South Florida. One grower is forced to throw away a substantial amount of one variety because of rain damage.

Photo by Dustin Grooms/Shows a strawberry field impacted by recent rains.

“We’re picking (Monday). We’re definitely a little bit wetter,” said Dustin Grooms with Fancy Farms in Plant City, Florida. “We took a lot of rain damage. Going around on this hand of fruit today, we’re probably throwing down, it looks a lot to me; I’d say 80% or so on a certain variety. The rain got it pretty good.

“It’ll basically crack it open and then where it sits on the plastic in the water, it’ll leave damage on the underside, too. It becomes unmarketable, and we’re having to discard it.”

Wet Weekend

South Florida received plenty of moisture this past weekend due to a storm coming up through the Gulf of Mexico. It left fields saturated and some more than others.

“On our farm we probably got about two inches of rain. Some other folks got more, and I don’t know that anybody got any less than that. I just know it was wet,” Grooms said. “Everything looks good from the truck at five miles an hour. But that one field, it took a beating. Maybe it rained harder there because my other farm is in a different location. I just pulled in here and it definitely seems to be a lot better. We probably got a little bit more rain at that other location.”

Adverse weather conditions in December have challenged Grooms and other farmers who are trying to stay timely with harvests and spray applications.

“We’ve been trying to release another round of predator mites. We were going to do it with a drone this time, and it’s been too windy for the drone to fly,” Grooms said. “Now the chilli thrips are out there, and we’re trying to figure out what to do about them still. We’re not having a lot of luck.”