A Berry Careful Growing Season

Jan 5, 2021

There’s a fine line between the risk & reward of a promising strawberry season in Florida.

And with the potential of losing millions of dollars of crop, growers are on high alert to cold spells in the Sunshine State like they were the last week of December.

But cold weather can actually produce plump, prime strawberries that are sweet and firm.

The catch: Farmers have to balance the cold weather and their crop care strategies to avoid disaster.

“It can actually freeze the berry, freeze the fruit. The cold will just turn it into Jell-O,” noted Tres McQuaig, a farm manager at Astin Farms.

So what’s a farmer to do? Ice ‘em.

Warm water is pumped over the strawberries, creating a thin layer of ice as the cold air on the berries’ skin meets the hot H²O. Insulation 101.

Zoom out: Florida strawberries are clawing back from a disappointing end to the 2019-2020 season.

In Dover, Florida, Parkesdale Farms was packing 35,000 boxes of berries a day last spring before brokers called off orders headed to shuttering East Coast cities.

But for now, projected demand for strawberries looks solid. And assuming demand doesn’t shrink and the crop can withstand the cold, producers will be in a sweet spot for 2021.