Florida winter strawberry season in full swing
PLANT CITY/DOVER, FLA—Near-perfect weather conditions allowed Florida strawberry growers to kick off the harvest in late October. Thanksgiving weekend is typically the launch date of the winter picking season.
“Acreage this year is estimated at 11,000 – about 1,000 acres over last year. Florida’s cool nights and warm days have made the berries particularly sweet and the shipping quality is excellent,” said Ted Campbell, Executive Director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association (FSGA).
“The size so far is medium to large and the berries are bright red, juicy and delicious. Demand for the ever-popular Festival variety is strong, but a newer, early variety—Radiance—is performing well. Volume will increase in mid-December. Baring a severe winter, we expect the season will run through March,” Campbell continued.
“Greater production this year necessarily requires enhanced marketing efforts to create awareness and increase sales. One of the ways we’re taking on the challenge is by reaching out to chefs in Florida and nearby geographical areas to showcase our industry,” said Sue Harrell, Director of Marketing for the Association.
“We will provide industry contacts to make sourcing our berries seamless. A Chefs Advisory Board comprised of high-profile chefs will help us communicate product attributes to consumers and foodservice professionals. Establishing relationships with executive chefs, research and product development experts and chef instructors teaching in accredited culinary academies is the best way possible to spread the word about our special strawberries. We’re focusing on educating both seasoned chefs and the chefs of tomorrow about our industry from the farm to the table. Establishing and nurturing these valuable relationships is an integral program designed to develop new markets today and maintaining them in the future.
“One of my favorite new ways to enjoy Florida strawberries for Super Bowl celebrations is to dip them in chocolate and decorate them to look like footballs. Log on to Strawberry Sue to learn more about the health benefits of strawberries and much more,” Harrell continued.
States east of the Mississippi are target markets for Florida strawberries. The industry is also exporting Florida strawberries to buyers in Europe and Canada.
After experiencing two consecutive years of freezing temperatures and heavy rainfall, growers are optimistic that mild weather will continue through the harvest season.
Editor note: Interviews with FSGA executives may be arranged. FSGA is a voluntary, non-profit organization of Florida strawberry growers who support research, education and promotion.
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The Florida Strawberry Growers Association, a 501(c)5 non-profit organization located in Dover, is the parent company of the Florida Strawberry Patent Service and the Florida Strawberry Research and Education Foundation.
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