Agronometrics in Charts: Florida Strawberry Season Well Underway

By Agronometrics | 21 March 2024

In this installment of the ‘Agronometrics In Charts’ series, Sarah Ilyas studies the state of Florida’s strawberry season. Each week the series looks at a different horticultural commodity, focusing on a specific origin or topic visualizing the market factors that are driving change.

Strawberries thrive in Florida during the winter months, particularly in west-central Florida. According to Wael Elwakil, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Agent in Hillsborough County, the peak season for Florida strawberries spans from February to March. Elwakil emphasizes that Hillsborough County holds a pivotal role in strawberry production, often referred to as the “belt line” due to its favorable climate and day length. With approximately 11,000 acres dedicated solely to strawberry cultivation in Hillsborough County, it stands as the state’s leading strawberry-producing county. The state’s leading strawberry-producing counties also include Citrus, Lee, Polk, Manatee, and Miami-Dade.

Weather in production areas has been mild with daytime highs around 82-85°F, peaking in the afternoon. Despite cool evenings, production remains steady. Demand for Florida strawberries remains robust, driven in part by a shortage of berries from California. This has enabled growers to maintain favorable pricing despite increased volumes. Week 11, however, saw prices dropping to $7.8 per package. This season saw its peak in week 9 with 14.6 K tonnes entering the US market. The season could run longer than the end of March or April, a historical wrap-up to the Florida strawberry season. “In seasons past, they’d cut acreage, especially when Mexico and California are in production,” says Gary Guynn of Guynn Family Produce Sales Inc. “If the market does get a bit weaker, I think everybody is okay to scale back on acreage to keep supply steady and not overdone,” Gary adds.

strawberry volumes by or 3

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.

(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

strawberry volumes by hi

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.

(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

strawberry prices by his 3

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.

(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

The success of Florida strawberries can be attributed in part to ongoing breeding programs geared towards enhancing taste profiles. Varieties such as ‘Florida Brilliance’ and ‘Sweet Sensation’ have gained popularity among growers and consumers alike. The annual Florida Strawberry Festival is a highlight of the season, drawing over half a million visitors to partake in concerts, livestock shows, entertainment, rides, and culinary delights. 

However, amidst the festivities, a shadow looms over the industry in the form of invasive pests, particularly the chili thrips. This voracious insect poses a significant threat to Florida’s strawberry crops, potentially causing up to 80% crop loss if left unchecked. The economic implications are substantial, with potential losses of up to $1.2 billion for the state’s $1.5 billion strawberry industry.

Efforts to mitigate the impact of invasive pests are underway, with growers and researchers collaborating to develop effective pest management strategies. The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has been at the forefront of research and outreach efforts to address the chili thrips threat, emphasizing the importance of timely intervention to prevent widespread damage.

In our ‘In Charts’ series, we work to tell some of the stories that are moving the industry. Feel free to take a look at the other articles by clicking here.

All pricing for domestic US produce represents the spot market at Shipping Point (i.e. packing house/climate controlled warehouse, etc.). For imported fruit, the pricing data represents the spot market at Port of Entry.

You can keep track of the markets daily through Agronometrics, a data visualization tool built to help the industry make sense of the huge amounts of data that professionals need to access to make informed decisions. If you found the information and the charts from this article useful, feel free to visit us at where you can easily access these same graphs, or explore the other 21 commodities we currently track.

Written by Sarah Ilyas

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