Growing strawberries in Florida continues to be a vital part of the state's agriculture economy. Carson Futch of Saunders Real Estate recently interviewed Kenneth Parker of Florida Strawberry Growers Association to get an update on the strawberry market and what last year’s crop was like in comparison to this year.
Parker shared that every year is different no matter the commodity. Last year’s strawberry crop had record volumes and the market price was lower than what farmers wanted. Because of this, it was late in the season before many farmers knew if they were going to be able to pay the bank back. It was pretty scary (as it can be every year) dealing with mother nature and the varying weather conditions as well as the cost of doing business.
This year, the market has been very strong with favorable conditions due to low production in Southern California and Central Mexico. Florida also had low production due to the weather being hot but it eventually cooled off. This meant that the average was perfect but it was an average of two extremes. When the weather turned cooler, it put a cap on the speed and volume of fruit it could grow. The weather has since warmed up and provided much more volume. This has led to the prices dropping significantly from where they were. Supply and demand run the show.
Many people at the strawberry festival are concerned every year that they will not have enough strawberries at the festival. The farmers ultimately need to make money but also want to provide strawberries for the festival. There has not been a year that the festival has been without strawberries.
About Carson Futch
Carson Futch is an associate broker with Saunders Real Estate, who specializes in land properties with a focus on all types of agricultural properties and development land. Carson is a 5th-generation Floridian and a Plant City native, where he grew up on a working ranch and citrus operation. He has been an owner and manager of businesses involved in real estate sales and development, production agriculture, harvesting, marketing, and agritourism during the 37 years of his career.
About Kenneth Parker
Kenneth Parker, a Plant City native, oversees two related organizations: The Florida Strawberry Patent Service Corp., which licenses the use of new varieties of Florida strawberries, and the Florida Strawberry Research and Education Foundation, which supports the development of new varieties and other grower-related research at the University of Florida.