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    Surplus of Strawberries Keeps Prices Low

    By Story by AccuWeather.com's Gina Cherundolo
    April 14, 2010, 8:11:36 AM EDT

    Due to some interference from Mother Nature, strawberry prices nationwide have plunged, much to consumers' delight and growers' frustration.

    Florida's crop usually hits the market in January and February, but unseasonably cool weather delayed strawberry ripening, which caused the state's crop to hit the market at the same time as other states' supplies, notably California.

    California accounts for 59 percent of the strawberries grown in the United States, while Florida accounts for 11 percent, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

    The initial shortage in stores earlier this year has given way to a surplus, and the excess that has dropped prices across the country has farmers letting berries rot on their stems rather than sell their berries at a loss.

    AccuWeather.com Facebook Fans report low strawberry prices across the country, with many saying they paid less than $2 for a quart, or they bought berries sold in bulk.

    Some fans also report low prices for tomatoes and blueberries.

    In addition to the lower prices, the delayed harvest also has berries tasting sweeter than usual.

    "Abnormally cool temperatures delayed maturation of the berries," Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles H. Bronson said in a press release. "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."

    AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dale Mohler thinks the odds are against a late-spring freeze that would kill off any crops in the Carolinas and Georgia, and crops planted after the frost should bear fruit soon.

    "There's a good supply of berries, and prices should stay low for the next few months," he said.

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