Dec 9, 2020Wish Farms expands Florida strawberry farm
Plant City, Florida-based international grower and year-round marketer of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, Wish Farms, is adding acreage to its Florida strawberry farm operation.
Founded in 1987, G&D Farms is named as a tribute to the original founders of the company, Gershon and Daniel. Before the land addition, it was already widely considered to be the largest contiguous strawberry farm in the world.
According to a news release, the purchase adds just over 800 acres of land, around 600 of which will be designated for farming. The remainder is natural wetlands, which will be left undisturbed for biodiversity and environmental sustainability.
Farm Manager, Chris Parks: “This expansion is very exciting for our team. Not only is the land directly adjacent to our current farm, but we can immediately start farming organically. The ground hasn’t been utilized for many years, so we can bypass the regulated waiting period. It gives us a lot of flexibility with rotation, ensuring that we are good stewards of the land.”
Wish Farms is farming 55 acres of it this coming season, with a gradual ramp up of usage in each season following.
While the farm is over 90% of the popular and successful Sweet Sensation variety, the company is always on the hunt for the next best tasting strawberry. Several rows are dedicated to 100 new variety and seedling trials. Nearly seven acres have been planted with the highly anticipated white strawberry. Wish Farms has branded them Pink-A-Boo Pineberries.
“I believe there will be strong demand for Pink-A-Boos in the coming years, and this land will allow us to expand that program without having to reduce our red strawberry acreage,” said Owner Gary Wishnatzki.
G&D is also employing some innovative techniques that help reduce its usage of non-organic pesticides. The releasing of predator Persimilis Mites (Phytoseiulus persimilis) started as an organic method to control Two-Spotted Spider Mites (Tetranychus urticae).
Chris Parks: “The same effective organic method has worked really well for our non-organic crop. This season we started experimenting with drones that scout and release. If it works, it could be a major boost to our farm’s efficiency.”
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Photo at top, from left, Chris Parks, Wish Farms farm manager; Tyrell Pierson, food safety manager; Kane Hannaford, assistant farm manager.