From the months of February and March, big red berries are picked and made into deserts and jams alike by local farmers. These berries are also famous for their own festival in Plant City, Florida known as the Strawberry Festival. There strawberry milkshakes, jams, shortcakes, and other things strawberry that come out of these two months in Florida. Yet the strawberry price depends year to year based on crop success in not just Florida, but California and Mexico too.

New bundles

The Tampa Bay Times got a close look with some chefs and industry experts about the strawberry crop and its success.

They toured local strawberry fields to discuss the new ideas happening in the industry and the types of new strawberries being cultivated for taste and use along with the change in Washington that could be a potential benefit for the agricultural system in Florida.

Their interview with third generation strawberry grower Mark Harrell shows the types of changes being put into the strawberry production industry. Mike Harrell works 90 acres of strawberries in his farm in Plant City. The newest berry crop to hit the market was a 2013 cultivation invention by scientists at the University of Florida called Sweet Sensation. It's a type of strawberry that is succulent and sweet to the taste buds. For some people, it's hard not to eat so much shortcake when you use those delicious berries.

Easy growing

Sweet Sensation, known as Florida 127 was made by the scientists and cultivators at the University of Florida. The scientists at UF have been working on making strawberries that can go under the weather conditions that Florida offers most of the time, hot and humid weather with lots of sunshine and a few scattered rain showers.

The biggest season where rain often happens is during the summertime when the weather is hot and dry, with no humidity or cold fronts to make the weather chilly enough for growing strawberries.

While Florida's industry for strawberries is one-third the size of California's, the strawberry invented by the Florida Radiance cultivation program at UF accounts for nearly 20 percent of the strawberry crop being planted throughout the state.

Harrell says the pricing for Florida strawberries is based on its competitions dominance in the market. So while there is promise, most of our success comes from November to January when California's strawberries are not controlling the market price. But it doesn't show the same success for Florida during March or April, which prices are down due to competitors control over market success. If that's the case, then more Florida strawberries for us within the state.

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