Jugos, bebidas, vinos y licoresOct. 8, 2012
Frutillas/EE.UU: productores de Florida esperan cosechar 25 millones de libras en 2013
Growers still reeling from the lowest strawberry prices in 25 years are heading into the new season hoping for better results.
A glut of berries last year, brought on by a very warm growing season, saw prices drop to $2 a flat. At the same time Californian and Mexican growers were also producing bumper crops.
The president of Wish Farms, the largest marketer of Plant City area berries, said he hopes last season proves to be an exception and the market bounces back.
“Growers are always optimistic. You wouldn’t be in this business if you weren’t optimistic,” said Gary Wishnatzki, whose firm is celebrating its 90th year in the berry business.
Wish Farms and its partners are planting a little less than 2,000 acres of berries this season, and “so far so good,” Wishnatzki said.
Last season’s warm weather induced such production that some Plant City growers took the unprecedented step in December of sending their berries for juicing, where they receive only a fraction of the price compared with sales of fresh fruit.
Juiced berries are used for flavoring, and growers typically don’t resort to juicing their crops until the end of the growing season.
But they used the strategy in 2011-12 to keep the market from collapsing.
The Florida Strawberry Growers Association expects 25 million pounds of berries will be produced on 10,000 acres this season, down slightly from 2011-12. The crop should be worth $350 million to $400 million in sales, Executive Director Ted Campell said.
The early stages of this season have gone relatively smoothly, except for last month’s rains that hindered the application of black plastic cover and fumigants on the fields. Most of the crops now are in the ground, and the tiny plants “need a lot of TLC. They wilt at all and they are dead,” Campbell said.