PLANT CITY, Fla. — Cool nights and warms days are helping Florida open its strawberry season to a strong start.

Florida strawberry season opens with more acreageThe Dover-based Florida Strawberry Growers Association reports near-perfect growing conditions are helping growers start the season.  

“As far as the weather has been, we could not have ordered anything better,” said Ted Campbell, executive director.

Campbell in mid-December reported berry sizings as medium to large. He says volume should increase and says the deal is being boosted by the addition of 1,000 new planted acres.

In mid-December, Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer of Wish Farms, said growers were shipping more volume than normal but not enough for large promotions. He said the volume should allow retailers to conduct small promotions.

“Quality has been really good,” Wishnatzki said. “We have had a little warm weather early on that might have affected some of the early shipments with a little bruising, but we’re into some good quality fruit now.”

Unlike freezes that struck last season in December and January, Florida strawberry growers say they hope this season brings milder growing conditions.

“Greater production this year necessarily requires enhanced marketing efforts to create awareness and increase sales,” Sue Harrell, director of marketing, said in a Dec. 12 news release. “One of the ways we’re taking on the challenge is by reaching out to chefs in Florida and nearby geographical areas to showcase our industry.”