Strawberries thrive in the Sunshine State in the winter months, particularly in west-central Florida. According to Wael Elwakil, a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Agent in Hillsborough County, Florida strawberries are in peak season from February through March.
Elwakil says that Hillsborough County is considered the “belt line” of strawberry production because of its climate and daylength. Roughly 11,000 acres are currently reserved for growing strawberries in Hillsborough County alone, the state’s leading strawberry-producing county.
Citrus, Lee, Polk, Manatee and Miami-Dade are also leading producers of strawberries in our state with harvest beginning as early as Thanksgiving. Florida is the second largest producer of the nation’s strawberries with a farm gate value of $300 million.
The two most popular varieties among Florida strawberry farmers are ‘Florida Brilliance’ and ‘Sweet Sensation®.’ Elwakil says that, “Florida strawberries are better than ever because our breeding program is geared to developing even more taste.”
Strawberries are a fan-favorite sweet treat with children and families. It’s red color and heart-shape makes it perfect for dipping in chocolate or topping cupcakes for Valentine’s Day. Be sure to check the label and support your local farmers by purchasing strawberries that are grown in Florida the next time you are at the grocery store.