Make us your home page
Instagram

Strawberry farmers say year good despite freeze

Simmons Strawberry Farms reflects the early January freeze. Damage from this year’s cold snap was estimated at $15-million.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Simmons Strawberry Farms reflects the early January freeze. Damage from this year’s cold snap was estimated at $15-million.

PLANT CITY — As strawberry season winds down, growers in eastern Hillsborough County say it's been an average year.

Some farmers suffered losses during an early January freeze but others escaped major damage. Overall, damage from the January freeze was estimated at $15-million.

The losses varied across Hillsborough County, which produces about 90 percent of Florida's strawberry crop, said Florida Strawberry Growers Association president Allen Williford.

Some farmers lost plants because their overhead watering systems didn't work or didn't reach the whole field. The layer of water sprayed onto the plants protects them from freezing temperatures.

Gary Parke, a hydroponic farmer in Plant City, said he lost some plants during the freezes, so his production wasn't as high as it has been in the past.

"But it's going to be a fair year," he said.

An average crop yield for strawberries is about 20,000 flats an acre, Williford said.

Local growers sold $272.5-million worth of strawberries in 2006 — 36 percent of the county's total agricultural sales, according to a county report issued late last year. However, local growers had a banner year in 2006 because of bad weather that affected California strawberries.

Williford said the association isn't pursuing any federal disaster assistance, but two U.S. representatives from Florida are seeking money through a Farm Service Agency loan program.

Reps. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, and Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, sent a letter to the U.S. secretary of agriculture in late March, stating that the below-freezing temperatures on Jan. 1-3 destroyed about 30 percent of the strawberry crop.

They are urging a disaster declaration for Hillsborough County so affected farmers can get federal assistance, though Williford said he doubts there was enough damage to qualify for the assistance. The Farm Service Agency has not yet made a decision.

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 661-2443.

Strawberry farmers say year good despite freeze 04/17/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 17, 2008 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Do you want Walmart in your home when you're not?

    Retail

    Delivery workers who drop off Walmart groceries may soon also bring them into your kitchen and unload them into your refrigerator, even if you're not home.

    Delivery workers who drop off Walmart groceries may soon also bring them into your kitchen and unload them into your refrigerator, even if you're not home.
[ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times file photo]

  2. Trumps travel ban to be replaced by restrictions tailored to certain countries

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, the New York Times reports, citing officials familiar with the plans.

    President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, officials familiar with the plans said Friday. The new restrictions, aimed at preventing security threats from entering the United States, could go into effect Sunday after the conclusion of a 90-day policy review undertaken as part of the administration's original travel ban. Though the restrictions would differ for each country, people living in the targeted nations could be prevented from traveling to the United States or could face increased scrutiny as they seek to obtain a visa. [Associated Press]
  3. In dollars: How valuable are Florida's university football programs?

    Business

    The University of Florida football program is valued in a new study at $682 million, making it the most valuable university team in the state but still worth far less than several college programs topping $1 billion. Four years ago, UF's program was valued at just under $600 million.

    The University of Florida football program is valued at  $682 million, making it the most valuable by far in the Sunshine State. Pictured are UF cheerleaders leading the crowd in a Gator cheer on Clearwater Beach last December during the Outback Bowl Beach Day on Clearwater Beach. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. After 22 years, it's last call for beloved Ybor venue New World Brewery

    Music & Concerts

    YBOR CITY — Steve Bird spreads his tools across a patio table. He has awnings to unbolt and paraphernalia to unpry, from the busted Bop City neon by the stage to the Simpsons "El Duffo o Muerte" mural in the courtyard. He'll uproot a fountain and dismantle a roof and attempt to keep his bar intact. The …

    Various decor and memorabilia fill the walls and shelves at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
Long time music venue and hangout New World Brewery in Ybor City will be closing it's doors and moving locations. Patrons enjoy one of the last events before New World Brewery changes its location to Busch Blvd in Tampa.  [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  5. Florida bought more Pasta Passes from Olive Garden than almost any other state

    Food & Dining

    Floridians would like their bowls of pasta to never, ever end.

    Florida was the No. 2 state with the largest number of Olive Garden Pasta Pass purchases, an unlimited pasta pass for $100. Photo courtesy Olive Garden.