Sunshine State’s Strawberries Fill Winter Demand for Tasty Fruit

Hurricane Irma Causes Few Supply Disruptions to Florida Strawberries

While Hurricane Irma brought a path of destruction to Florida, the storm isn’t expected to cause supply issues. On Sept. 10-12, 2017, the eye of the storm rolled through Plant City, FL, the heart of America’s winter strawberry production. By causing floods and destroying plastic growers laid for strawberry transplants, the storm caused much agronomic aggravation for growers, who hadn’t started plantings.

“It didn’t impact us,” says Gary Wishnatzki, owner of Wish Farms in Plant City. “Though we lost some plastic and a barn at our farm, it wasn’t a bad blow. When growers saw the storm, many thought they would have a late season; just the reverse is true.”

The storm destroyed all of Bradenton, FL-based C&D Fruit & Vegetable Co.’s hoop houses and damaged growing operations, says Tom O’Brien, president. “Overall, for what we were expecting here in the middle of the state, we actually didn’t fare too bad,” he says.

Rain and high winds caused a lot of headaches, including destroying plastic and making growers clean ditches, but production remained on schedule, says Chris Smith, sales manager of BBI Produce in Dover, FL. “We are thankful it wasn’t any worse, but it was another loss that cost us money,” he says. “We are on schedule and where we wanted to be, with or without the hurricane.