Florida strawberries and tomatoes are leading produce shipments from the Sunshine state this month.
Florida has over 11,000 acres of strawberries are grown in the Plant City area each year, with Hillsborough County shipping about 15 percent of the nation’s strawberries and virtually all the berries grown during the winter.
Since late spring, the weather was good and the state has been leading the nation in strawberry shipments now for a number of weeks. Although small compared to California’s total strawberry shipments, Florida ships about 20 million flats each year.
Florida is loading about 1,000 truck loads of strawberries per week.
Florida Vegetable Shipments
Unlike some winters, Florida growing conditions also have generally been favorable for vegetables, leading to fairly stable shipments from week to week. Mature greens provide Florida’s heaviest tomato volume, with much less amounts coming from plum and grape tomatoes. However, if you add the three types of tomatoes together, they are averaging about the same amount of volume as Florida strawberries.
However, a major difference between hauling strawberries and tomatoes relates to geography. Florida’s strawberry shipments are concentrated in a relatively small growing area just west of Tampa. By contrast, Florida tomato shipments are spread throughout much of the state, with some areas being more active depending on the season.
At the same time, Florida also is shipping a number of other winter vegetables. However, volume with Florida vegetable shipments are much lighter this time of the year. While Florida may be shipping around 1,000 truckloads of mature green, plum and grape tomatoes each week, the next closest item is bell peppers, averaging only 250 truck loads weekly. Other leading Florida vegetables range from cabbage, to sweet corn, cucumbers, and beans, but the volume this time of year is only 50 percent or less that of bell peppers.
This will remain so until the last half of March, or April, depending upon weather conditions. All of this means mixed loads and only partial loads for the most part in the winter. Even during the heaviest Florida produce shipping season in the spring, multiple picks and drops are very common.