Florida Strawberries – a taste of summer all winter long!
PLANT CITY/DOVER, FLA (3/2/09) — March through early-April may be the last chance until next November to source domestic strawberries from Florida. Just about any Floridian will agree that Florida strawberries are the highest-quality winter strawberries east of the Mississippi. They can be delivered to key markets fresh and fast due to their prime location to eastern and southern markets.
Florida is the dominant U.S. supplier of strawberries in the winter months and reigns supreme from late November thorough March and often into April when other growing regions begin coming into the marketplace. Now is the time to celebrate the season while supplies are still available.
Florida winter strawberries are grown primarily in the Plant City/Dover region of Florida. The production area has earned a worldwide reputation as The Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.
Producers planted approximately 8,500 acres this growing season. Each year since 2003-2004 acreage has increased due to consumer demand. Growers attribute this to increased awareness of the health benefits of strawberries and other fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and pomegranates – all rich in antioxidants and valuable nutrients.
“In my recent travels to St. Louis and Atlanta, I found that, overwhelmingly, retailers and foodservice personnel recognize the value of stocking and serving domestically-grown winter strawberries and other U.S.-grown produce over foreign imports,” said Sue Harrell, director of marketing for the Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA), a voluntary organization made up of about 100 strawberry growers.
“Strict safety standards and voluntary product tracking ability have become a high priority for Florida producers. Retailers and consumers appreciate our dedication to safety, freshness and superior quality. We’ll put our quality, freshness, flavor and dependability against any other strawberry producing region. A simple taste test of our strawberries against those from other regions tells the story best.
“Americans are becoming more health conscious today and realize that increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is the way to go to provide good nutrition at a reasonable cost. And when you think about it, strawberries rank high as a fast food. Just grab them and go. Nothing tastes better than fresh strawberries eaten right out of hand,” Harrell concluded.
The FSGA works with plant breeders from the University of Florida to seek new and improved varieties year after year. Developing a new variety is a lengthy and necessary component of the overall program of FSGA.