by JOHN BAXTER
It’s no secret that Florida strawberries are delicious. You would be hard-pressed to meet someone who doesn’t agree. It’s also no secret, at least among Florida growers and members of the industry, that Florida strawberries are one of the costliest crops to produce. Whenever I think about the cost (and potential return) for growing Florida strawberries, a quote comes to mind from a classic baseball film, A League of Their Own, where actor Tom Hanks (playing Coach Jimmy Dugan) says, “It’s the hard that makes it great.” Growing strawberries in Florida is hard (as is growing most anything in Florida)— there is no doubt. But it is the “hard” (and the potential for return on investment) that makes it great.
Keeping that adage in mind and considering the cost of strawberry production, the fertilization (or fertigation) part of the “cost” equation is not high when looking at the big picture. In fact, fertilizer only accounts for about two percent of a strawberry grower’s total cost.
Plus, with drip irrigation technology in Florida strawberry fields, growers have been reducing use of water resources for years. Many Florida strawberry farms use drip irrigation, and this technique reduces water use by up to 50 percent compared to overhead irrigation. Plus, applying essential elements Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K) through drip irrigation (also known as fertigation) allows for the potential to increase efficiency of application of these leachable nutrients.
Too much application of these and other fertilizers can lead to less-than-desirable results, such as excessive vegetative plant growth and reduced yields. It’s a delicate balance that Florida growers face every day, and the Florida Division team here at Helena Agri-Enterprises, Inc.— with its expertise, products and leading-edge agricultural services— is your ally in finding this optimum balance. For questions on how our team can help your strawberry crop’s health and yield, call us at (813) 333-3182.
This column is sponsored by Helena Agri-Enterprises, Inc., and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or its advertisers.
BIO: John Baxter is the Florida Division Manager of Helena Agri-Enterprises, Inc. He has proudly served Florida growers at Helena for 25 years, and he also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Fertilizer & Agrichemical Association. For more information about Helena products or services, or to contact a member of the Florida team, call (813) 626-5121.