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strawberry growers

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Florida has never been the perfect climate for growing strawberries -- it's usually too hot or too cold.

And the current cold snap has strawberry farmers in the Tampa Bay region on the defensive this week.

Take a look at the next box of strawberries you find in the store. Depending on where in the country you happen to be, it may have come from Florida. But it won't for much longer.

Why?

  A new study by University of Florida researchers finds Florida strawberry growers would benefit by starting the growing season just a few weeks earlier each year.  Doing so could help growers maximize their profits and help Florida’s strawberry industry to remain competitive in the global market. However, actually implementing the study’s findings is not that simple.

Wish Farms

Strawberry growers in California have been hit with unusual, freezing temperatures while Florida’s strawberry fields have been bathing in 80 degree temperatures.

Gary Wishnatzki is the owner of Wish Farms, the largest strawberry distributor in Florida. He said California growers are not equipped to handle freezing temperatures.

“They don’t have overhead irrigation to utilize to protect the crop and there’s usually some bloom and small berry damage,” Wishnatzki said.