Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

Whatever happened to: local agriculture

PLANT CITY — This year was not a great one for Hillsborough County strawberries.

"It was really warm early in the season," said Stephen Gran, the county's agriculture industry development manager.

The warm weather caused too many strawberries to ripen at once. That overabundance of berries flooded the market, driving prices down, Gran said.

There's hope for the current crop, though, said Ted Campbell with the Florida Strawberry Grower's Association.

"Right now, the weather is cooperating," Campbell said. "We're tired of this, all this hot and cold. Let's have a normal year for a change."

Citrus production was down in the past year, mostly due to acreage being reduced because of disease, Gran said.

Vegetables, such as tomatoes, zucchini and squash, fared better and the ornamental plants used in landscaping experienced a slight resurgence, Gran said.

"That industry had been declining over the last several years because of the downturn in the housing market, but that has begun to stabilize," Gran said.

But the newest additions to Hillsborough County's farming scene may be the fastest increasing crops of the year: blueberries and peaches.

"Blueberry acreage has been on the increase in the last several years," Gran said. "And we have quite a bit of peaches being produced."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected]

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