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Planting and picking earlier this year
Florida strawberry season kicks off
The Florida strawberry season has kicked off and growers are starting to pick fruit now. Retail stores can expect them toward the beginning of December when there’s more volume coming in.
Amber Maloney at Wish Farms, says they’re excited to move into the Florida season. “We are transitioning from California fruit to Florida strawberries, and there are a few new varieties this season.” Wish Farms plants University of Florida varieties, including Radiance, Sweet Sensations, and the newest variety, Florida Beauties. “Consumers love the size, shape and sweet flavor of the (Sweet) Sensations,” she says. “It did very well for us last year, and our farm is heavily planted with that variety.” The variety is known to hold its flavor and high brix throughout the season.
The newest variety this season is the Florida Beauty. This is the first season it’s been commercially planted. It’s said to be very similar to Sweet Sensation in terms of flavor and size, but it is known to be a little darker red in color and is an earlier variety.
Wish Farms has increased its Florida strawberry acreage by 300 acres this season for a total of about 1,900 acres, including both conventional and organic. The increased acreage is a blend of some Wish Farms’ growers adding acreage, and Wish Farms adding new growers this season. “When Hurricane Irma hit central Florida in September, we saw minimal damage,” says Maloney. Their growers had plastic laid down in some fields, but no strawberry plants were in the ground at that time. Many of their growers are planting earlier this year. “We’re expecting to have higher volume even earlier than in past years. Everyone’s trying to meet that early market window.”
Florida’s strawberry season also overlaps with Wish Farms’ blueberry programs in Argentina and Chile. “We’ll have a very healthy supply of Chilean blues for this import season,” added Maloney, “A little over a year ago we announced our blackberry program; that’s going to continue over the winter months with product coming out our company-owned farm in Santa Maria, California and Mexico. They also announced a raspberry program just prior to PMA, with fruit coming from their farm in Santa Maria, California and Mexico.
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