Relax, Fresh Plaza, Florida Strawberry Production Is Growing

From ClimateREALISM

By H. Sterling Burnett

Fresh Plaza, a global trade publication for the fresh produce industry, ran an article claiming climate change is harming Florida’s strawberry production. This is false. Data shows that amid modest warming, Florida’s strawberry production has increased dramatically over the past 30 years. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that Florida strawberry shipments have more than doubled since 2000.

The Fresh Plaza article, “‘Climate change will impact strawberry production in Florida,’” cites a report by the environmental lobbying group, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), which claims, based on computer model simulations of future weather under assumed climate conditions, that strawberry production could decline by as much as 17% in some growing counties, driving income losses of more that 10%.

Known shortcomings with computer model projections and real world strawberry production data throw doubt on EDF’s claims.

Based on computer models projections, EDF cites two primary climate changes that it claims threaten Florida’s strawberry crops: higher temperatures and worsening hurricanes. Concerning temperatures, Climate Realism has repeatedly discussed the fact that climate models do not accurately reflect temperatures. They run too hot. If model simulations don’t accurately reflect past and present temperatures, and have since their inception consistently predicted more warming than the Earth has experienced, there is no reason whatsoever to rely on their projections of future temperatures.

Nor as EDF implies, have hurricanes become more of a problem for Florida. Data demonstrates that Atlantic hurricanes have neither increased in number nor severity during the recent period of modest warming.

What about strawberries? Florida is the second largest strawberry producing state, behind only California, although it is a distant second. In 2021, Florida’s strawberry crop generated $399 million in value, accounting for 12% of the United States strawberry crop value as whole, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Strawberries are Florida’s top berry crop.

Historically, Florida’s strawberry crop is produced between December and March, but new varieties and better growing conditions have resulted in Florida beginning to produce strawberries in November. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that since 2000, Florida’s strawberry shipments have more than doubled. Indeed, strawberry production is doing so well that the acreage devoted to growing strawberries expanded by 5 percent in 2021 alone.

Although, like other crops, strawberry production waxes and wanes every year, in 2020 in Florida strawberries set a new record for production and 2021’s production, though below 2020’s level, were still above all previous production years going back to 2013.

For the United States as a whole, data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization also shows strawberry production has increased during the recent period of modest warming. Between 1990 and 2021, U.S. strawberry yields increased by more than 99%, setting new records for production 15 times, most recently in 2020. Also between 1990 and 2021, U.S. strawberry production grew by approximately 113%, setting new records production 16 times. Florida was a big part of that. (see the graph, below)

The moral of this story is that Fresh Plaza should check the data before publicizing every “study” a climate alarmist group produces claiming that any particular crop, or agricultural production in general, are being or will be harmed by climate change. Its readers should be happy to learn that Florida strawberry production is doing well, and there is no reason to think it will not continue to flourish in the future, unless fossil fuel use is banned. Existing data refutes claims that climate change is harming strawberry production in Florida or nationwide, and when data and model projections conflict, science says believe the data.

H. Sterling Burnett

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute’s Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland’s Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.

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Tom Halla
May 21, 2023 2:53 pm

A model probably using RCP8.5, or in other words, pulled out of their *ss.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 22, 2023 8:57 am

You are correct. The study mentions IPCC RCP8.5 models.
The study is here, 31 pages.

Ron Long
May 21, 2023 3:20 pm

Tortured data and corrupt models on one side and reality on the other! The earth has greened up 10% and I don’t mean more loco green CAGW wienies. I like strawberries.

May 21, 2023 3:29 pm

Central FL news stations are running the story. I saw it on in the Orlando news; this article is from Tampa PBS:
Now that the news stations have hopped on the bandwagon, this must be true!/sarc

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  iflyjetzzz
May 22, 2023 5:04 am

Most news stations are just too lame to do real journalism.

May 21, 2023 3:38 pm

Why pick such a large diverse region like the State of Florida: $399m when California’s Ventura County’s 2021 Crop & Livestock Report| Strawberries: $712,022,000.

One County.

This is worse than cherry picking as opposed to strawberry picking.

Reply to  Giving_Cat
May 22, 2023 11:21 am


Thanks, Cat, but remember timing of the crops…our Florida berries have worse problem with very cold February fronts when it gets below freezing. That wx also kills Royal Palms, some citrus and other tender things. Big deal. The farmers have seen it before and will see it again.

Speaking of cherries, might be one variety that likes the climate up here in north Florida..maybe a high hilltop in Walton or Okaloosa counties. Like peaches, we need “x” hours/days below “x” degrees for the fruit to set.

Gums sends…

May 21, 2023 4:13 pm

I have to wonder whether someone at Fresh Plaza owns stock in strawberry producers outside of Florida.

Reply to  MarkW
May 22, 2023 11:28 am

The NAACP just issued a “travel advisory” warning minorities to avoid Florida, because the government there is actively hostile towards them and their safety cannot be assurred.

Of course this is the same NAACP that turns a blind eye towards the huge problem of black on black crime in Democrat led cities and states.

May 21, 2023 4:15 pm

From the Think of The Children Dept:

Cute ad for Florida strawberries.

Last edited 16 days ago by Yirgach
Rich Davis
May 21, 2023 5:12 pm

Anybody spending a few seconds thinking about this might observe that Mexico produces strawberries and so does Maine. Strawberries can be grown in almost every state in the US. Even Nova Scotia Canada has pick your own strawberries.

Like Mexico, Florida strawberries are grown during the cool winter season and up north they are typically in season during June.

If we continue to have a slight warming trend, winter strawberries will be more plentiful as zone 9-10 creeps north. And more summer berries as zone 5 likewise creeps north.

As CO2 rises, they should grow faster.

How do they come up with this rubbish? They really think we’re stupid.

May 21, 2023 10:07 pm

The moral of this story is that Fresh Plaza should check the data before publicizing

Sadly, this is the state of “journalism” across the world these days, especially in the UK

Eric Vieira
Reply to  Redge
May 22, 2023 12:38 am

They’ll deny being stupid .. “The computer said so !”

Eric Vieira
May 22, 2023 12:35 am

To Mr. Kerry:
Living is easy with eyes closed .. misunderstanding all you see …
Strawberry fields forever …

Right-Handed Shark
May 22, 2023 1:22 am

They are getting so lazy. As can be easily established, as above, strawberry production has increased significantly, so how to spin this into bad news? Well, apparently the American strawberry originated in Virginia, so how about this headline:

“Invasive species dominates Florida fruit production!”

Most people won’t read past that, and it’s also factual. Alarm generated, job done.

May 22, 2023 3:03 am

This is what Florida really needs to be worrying about …

Growing Strawberries Indoors in Greenhouses
Strawberries are a crop for which there is an annual hole in production. Grocers and restaurants often can’t get enough high-quality strawberries in November, December, and January (or June, July, and August if you live Down Under). There aren’t a lot of cultivars of strawberries that set fruit in the waning days of summer because of their daylight requirements. Local field-grown fruit suffers unpredictable and deteriorating weather, and an early frost cancels out a late crop. Consumers pay a premium for strawberries flown in from the other side of the world. Greenhouse-grown strawberries offer superior sugar levels, color, and flavor in cold-weather months, particularly if they can be produced locally — that is, at least on the same continent on which they are consumed.

There is a very large, highly computerized and mechanized strawberry greenhouse near Toledo, Ohio. It is in a rural industrial area. Cheap land. Close to transportation and Midwest markets.

Reply to  rovingbroker
May 22, 2023 11:31 am

The wonders of free-market capitalism.
How many socialists would have thought of putting up greenhouses to grow strawberries once the weather outside became too cold.

The socialist solution to such a problem always involves telling the little people that they will just have to do without, while the elite dine on strawberries flown in from warmer climes.

Reply to  MarkW
May 23, 2023 2:59 am

Up until the 1950s-1960s there were lots of coal-fired greenhouses in the upper midwest (and likely other areas) providing vegetables (ie. hot-house tomatoes) and flowers to those who could afford them. They are gone, competed out of existence by fast low-cost rail and air service from warm places like California, Mexico and South America.

Technology has changed the markets again.

Joseph Zorzin
May 22, 2023 5:03 am

“The moral of this story is that Fresh Plaza should check the data before publicizing every “study” a climate alarmist group produces…”

Especially the EDF!

May 22, 2023 7:56 am

Entry from March 04, 2011

“Rip-and-read” is news that is “ripped” off a teletype machine and “read” on the air; the term was first used in radio and then used in television. “Rip-and-read” news is usually national news, not tailored to the local radio or television station’s specific market.

The term “rip and read” has been cited in print since at least 1952. Although “rip-and-read” news has been highly criticized, the process is essentially still used by many broadcast stations.

Rip-and-Read … “first used in radio and then used in television” … and now the internet.

Reply to  rovingbroker
May 22, 2023 11:32 am

I tried to rip and read.
Now I need a new laptop.

Dave Fair
May 22, 2023 11:46 am

EDF and other Leftist NGOs should have their non-profit status pulled because of their political advocacy and outright lies.

May 24, 2023 6:42 am

Bad data and analysis aside, this is another case of reattributing normal weather cycles with the label climate change. The veracity of such claims is based on a crap shoot of future normal weather cycles impacting particular crop. The veracity sought is not scientific but one of impression.

If the strawberry crops were impacted by a normal cycle of bad weather, then the reattribution gains traction; even if it was fallacious to begin with. This works because the masses are inundated with information that is programed and delivered to them by AI and internet outlets. Who can remember it all? Most people don’t even try because IT knows.

Meanwhile South Eastern Pennsylvania has had one of the driest Mays in a long while and my strawberry crop is impacted. I have had to water them this Spring; big whup! It is preferable to the swampy Springs we had during the last Solar minimum. The strawberries will not be big nor insipid. They will be smallish, richly flavored and sweet. So much for the weather.

Question: The last two solar minimums were rather deep with increased cosmic radiation and colder than usual upper atmosphere. What sort of impact would the solar cycle have on air turbulence?

Last edited 13 days ago by JC
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