Strawberry production down from freeze
Strawberry production in Florida is down an estimated 30 percent from 2007, largely because of the freeze that hit the state in January.
The Florida Strawberry Growers Association places an initial estimate on losses at $15 million. That number could increase depending on how well strawberry plants recover during the remainder of the season.
Florida's strawberry industry, which is concentrated primarily east of Tampa in Hillsborough County, generated more than $270 million in revenue last year.
The January freeze did not destroy core plants, and in the immediate aftermath of the freeze it appeared damage was minimal. But as plants bloomed after the freeze, may berries were deformed, meaning growers had less crop to sell and received a lower price for underdeveloped fruit, said Shawn Crocker, strawberry association executive director.
The key for the industry will be how well the crop recovers and how much fruit is produced during the remainder of the season, Crocker said. The strawberry season runs from November through March.