By Clint Thompson
Cooler fall temperatures are a sight for sore eyes for South Florida strawberry producers. Hopefully, it’ll lead to increased yields and enhanced fruit quality, says Vance Whitaker, strawberry breeder at the University of Florida Gulf Coast Research and Education Center.
“Moderated temperatures in the fall, at least in recent years, have been hard to come by. It’s been awfully hot in a lot of Novembers. This is a really welcomed change. Some growers have said it feels more like the seasons they used to have many years ago. All of the growers are very, very pleased with this weather,” Whitaker said.
“I think it’s going to make yields steadier, and it’ll make quality higher. It’s hard to say on total yields. It just depends on the length of the season, primarily; what the temperatures are like in March and April. We have a long way to go before that. But I would say early in the season, steadiness of yield is really helped by these moderated temperatures and then of course quality. It’s all good so far.”
Whitaker said temperatures in the South Florida region have been in the 50s at night and 70s during the day which is just “fantastic weather” for fruit production this early in the season.
“If this kind of weather pattern continues, that’s just ideal for fruit production. You get fewer big gaps in production. You tend to get steadier production which is what all our growers want,” Whitaker said. “Hopefully, this forecast will hold, and we’ll continue to have this great weather.”
Short Plant Supply
There were concerns early in the planting season about a potential lack of plants available for some producers. Whitaker affirmed, however, that growers got their crop in the ground, as excitement builds for harvest season.
“Plant supply was a little bit tight this year, but the great thing is it looks like all the holes were filled, and really we’re about where we were hoping to be,” Whitaker said.