Signs of the Season sponsored by Farm Credit of Central Florida

Signs of the Season sponsored by Farm Credit of Central Florida

Florida Is the Second-Highest Strawberry-Producing State

Sponsored by Farm Credit of Central Florida

by ERIKA ALDRICH

Florida strawberries are some of the most beloved berries in the country, especially because they are just about the only strawberry available in the dead of winter! The majority of Florida strawberries originate in Plant City, which is recognized at the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World. Plant City’s claim to strawberry fame started over 100 years ago when Henry Plant built a railroad from Plant City to Tampa, opening access for strawberry growers to ship their crop to the East Coast. The strawberry industry has grown by leaps and bounds, and led to the Florida Strawberry Festival, and it continues to grow and expand. Explore the details of the Florida strawberry industry, and the ever-popular Florida Strawberry Industry, below.

Florida Strawberries by the Numbers

The Florida Strawberry Grower’s Association (FSGA) started in 1982. Today, the Florida strawberry industry boasts of over 11,000 acres of strawberries, and nearly all of those acres are in Hillsborough County. Florida is the second-highest strawberry-producing state in the country, but it leads in the production of winter strawberries. The FSGA maintains that Hillsborough County produces around 15 percent of the country’s strawberries—about 20 million strawberry flats a year—with a peak harvest window in the months of February and March.

Strawberry consumption continues to increase, as trends towards healthy eating means that vitamin-rich strawberries continue to be America’s favorite berry. According to the FSGA, the value of the strawberry as a commodity has more than tripled in the last 20 years, and that it has the potential to double in the next decade. Currently, the FSGA maintains that the Florida strawberry industry’s economic impact is over $700 million. 

Details of the Florida Strawberry Festival 

The Florida Strawberry Festival has been a community staple since its inception in 1930, organized by the local Plant City Lions Club looking to celebrate the area’s strawberry festival. The festival has gone on every year since, excluding a six-year span in the 1940s where the event was not held due to World War II and its aftermath. 

Today, the Florida Strawberry Festival is considered one of the premier festivals in the country, earning a spot as one of the “Top 40 Fairs in North America.” The event is held over 11 days starting in late February and into early March to coincide with the peak of the Florida strawberry harvest. It attracts over 500,000 visitors every year! The 2020 Florida Strawberry Festival, scheduled from February 27th to March 8th, will be the 85th Florida Strawberry Festival held in Plant City.

The Florida Strawberry Festival boasts of many activities and entertainment options, but the foremost is the opportunity to try America’s favorite berry in an endless number of ways. Visitors can find fresh-picked strawberries, strawberry shortcake, chocolate-covered strawberries, strawberry lemonade, strawberry jam, and other strawberry-based creations. Strawberry growers from around the area set up booths with their most luscious, fresh-picked berries available for purchase by the pint basket or flat.

This community-centered event also features live musical entertainment for every single night of the festival, fair rides and attractions, carnival fare, contests, parades, and more. The festival also pays homage to the region’s robust ag industry, offering youth livestock shows, the Florida Strawberry Growers Association’s strawberry production display and “Ask A Farmer” booth, and other ag-based attractions.
Florida strawberries are a unique ag commodity that help Florida ag to shine, and they foster economic development and community spirit that are second to none.

Sponsored by Farm Credit of Central Florida