Florida strawberry shipments got off to a good start this season and while volume is currently down, this should change once we get into the New Year.
As of December 9th, loadings had totaled 1.258 million 12-pound cartons, up from 1.075 million cartons the same time a year ago.
While some plastic covering for the plants had to be replaced, strawberries were unaffected by Hurricane Irma last September. The fruit also came through a cold spell in the middle of December in good shape. However, that colder weather has resulted in fewer shipments the last half of December, but volume to return more to normal as we progress into January.
Because of newer strawberry varieties and planting of plugs there was more volume in November than there used to be. Fruit was being shipped in at the start of November this season instead of after Thanksgiving as in the past. Florida strawberry shipment for the fresh market should continue through March.
Florida strawberry shipments in calendar year 2016 totaled 18.3 million 12-pound cartons, down slightly from 19.2 million cartons in 2015 but way up from 11.5 million cartons in 2010, according to the USDA. Florida strawberry shipments typically peak in February and March, with those two months accounting for 32 and 37 percent of annual shipments, respectively.
In 2016, December accounted for 21 percent of total shipments and January had a 9 percent share of total annual shipments.
Additionally, in 2016, Florida strawberry acreage totaled 10,800 planted acres and 10,700 harvested acres of strawberries.
Each year Easter provides a big demand for strawberries. In 2018, Easter will fall on April 1st, instead of April 16th as it did in 2017. Florida should still have good supplies of strawberries to ship ahead of the Easter observance.
Wish Farms of Plant City, FL accounts for about 17 to 18 percent of the total strawberry acreage.