A new UF Institute of Food and Agriculture Science study shows that Florida strawberry growers must pick and harvest fruit earlier in the growing season than usual to be competitive in today’s market.
While Florida is still the largest producer of winter strawberries, at $366 million annually, Mexico has become a major competitor to the Florida strawberry industry. According to the study, the U.S. imported 360 million pounds of fresh strawberries from Mexico in 2014, while Florida produced about 200 million pounds.
The study’s co-author Vance Whitaker, a UF horticultural sciences associate professor, said that to stay competitive, Florida strawberry producers need to start picking in mid-November, when the domestic supply of strawberries are low and prices are high.
Whitaker said Florida strawberry yield needs to peak in the first six to eight weeks of the growing season, otherwise too much supply will lower prices and reduce profit.
“If they can’t do this or lower their costs significantly, it may be difficult for them to stay in business,” Whitaker said.
Read more here: http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2015/11/ufifas-study-strawberry-growers-must-pick-harvest-earlier-for-best-profit/#more-9518