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For weeks, unusually cold winter temperatures put off Florida’s strawberry harvest, leaving grocery shelves empty. But finally, there’s good news: the strawberries are ripening, and they’re even sweeter than usual, according to the Florida Agriculture Department.
“Abnormally cool temperatures delayed maturation of the berries,” said Florida agriculture commissioner Charles H. Bronson. “Strawberries stayed on the plants longer, so they had more time to produce sugar. The result is the sweetest strawberries we’ve seen in a very long time.”
Shoppers can expect an abundance of extra-sweet Florida strawberries to be available now and in the upcoming weeks. The harvest will continue through early April, and should reach its peak in the middle of this month.
“Now is the time to celebrate the harvest and enjoy Florida strawberries at the height of season,” Bronson said. “Florida strawberries are in stores in abundance. Prices are great, and now is the time to enjoy these sweet, nutritious treats at their very best.”
During the 2008-2009 season, Florida produced over $300 million in strawberries between December and April, accounting for nearly 240 million pints of fresh berries. Hillsborough County in west central Florida is the hub of the state’s strawberry production. The county produces about 15 percent of the nation’s strawberries [m] about 18 million flats per year [m] with virtually all the berries grown during the winter.