By Clint Thompson
The strawberry disease that has decimated plantings in Florida and Georgia has already caused some nursery plants to be destroyed. However, there are enough plants for producers to fill their quota, says Kenneth Parker, executive director of the Florida Strawberry Growers Association.
“There’s not going to be a shortage of strawberry plants. Somebody said the same thing last year,” Parker said. “There’s not going to be any unplanted acres.
“Fortunately, we grow strawberry plants in three or four different regions; Eastern three provinces of Canada, the mountains and also out west. Fortunately, we’ve got an ample amount.”
Neopestalotiopsis Fruit Rot
Neopestalotiopsis Fruit Rot disease has been at the forefront of growers’ minds ever since it was discovered during the 2018-19 season. Matt Parke, farm manager of Parkesdale Farms in Plant City, Florida, compared it citrus greening, a disease that has ravaged Florida’s citrus crop.
Strawberry producers are hopeful to avoid a similar fate, though it has worsened every year. It has already made an impact this year, as plantings are just getting under way.
“They’re having issues with that new disease we’re dealing with,” Parke said. “I think we’ll get them all covered. Everybody’s trying to figure it out right now.
“Some of the nurserymen decided it was better for them to destroy their crop instead of sending them here infected.”
Parke said all of his crop originates from Canada. He received a good scouting report that the plants were clean. He started planting last week.
Fellow strawberry producer Dustin Grooms was not as fortunate, however. He received confirmation from one nursery that one variety was cut by 40%; and 20% on another.
“That means I’ll have to have ordered enough to cover that. That’s just on one nursery, and I hadn’t even started yet. Somehow it always works out, but yeah, they’re in high demand,” Grooms said.
“It’s always a chess match this time of year with strawberry plants.”