Plant City

Strawberry-harvesting robots, more of the sweeter varieties, and new U-picks

A ROBOT THAT CAN PICK strawberries may ease the industry’s labor problem and revolutionize the way crops are harvested. “This machine itself is being designed specifically for the strawberry,” says Gary Wishnatzki, a third-generation family-owner of Plant City’s Wish Farms, who is partnering in the project. “We’re not going to stop with strawberries … There’s …

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Harvest time: Double cropping — a watermelon season preview

THE END OF APRIL marks the beginning of watermelon harvest season in Central Florida, and for growers like Andy McDonald, it’s especially sweet. That’s because McDonald double crops, planting the watermelon seedlings in his Plant City strawberry fields. McDonald takes advantage of any lull in strawberry picking in early February to place the plants into …

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Venturing into the pampered world of blackberries

Frontier farmers take a step back to black with this alternative crop TOO MUCH HANDLING will ruin them, they are time-consuming to harvest, and sometimes they have thorns — but consumers love blackberries, and they are a viable fruit to be grown as an alternative to citrus in Florida.

Soil life challenges

OUR SANDY SOILS in Florida are a constant challenge to all growers of all crops. We have an inadequate amount of organic matter to give us the platform we need to work from.

High-tech alerts and the quest for a better berry

| Strawberry growers look to technology to help save money and increase production | Sixty-five-year-old Carl Grooms has been growing strawberries for more than four decades, but it’s not routine, and never business as usual. As his business card attests, he is “still learning.”

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