Decent strawberry shipments are finally taking place from the Plant City area of Florida after a slow start during the past month or so. However, it will be February 1st before volume hits a peak.
Although there is no official government acreage estimate for the 2018-19 season, some observers believe total acreage is around 10,000 to 11,000 acres. However, for the 2017-18 the USDA reported planted acres totaled 10,800, while harvested acreage was 10,700 acres.
The USDA said Florida strawberry growers had an average yield of 225 hundredweight per acre. Total production totaled 2.41 million cwt.
Hot weather last fall resulted in smaller strawberries and less volume although that situation started improving in mid December.
USDA shipment statistics show so far this season, conventional Florida strawberry shipments totaled 8.73 million pounds through December 8th, down 43 percent compared with the same time a year ago, when 15.1 million pounds had been shipped.
Total loadings of Florida conventional strawberries during the 2017-18 totaled 240.8 million pounds, according to the USDA.
Strawberry shipments were in a lull in mid-December and decent volume did not occur until after the New Year.
Wish Farms of Plant City, FL reports acreage in Florida could be off a little, perhaps 5 percent — compared with a year ago. Hillsborough County, FL has about 10,000 acres and Manatee County at about 1,000 acres.
While Florida strawberry volume is building, it is not expected to hit real good levels volume until the week of January 20th, which puts shippers in a good position for the important Valentine Day’s (February 14th) demand.