An international producer based in Plant City, Florida and a year-round distributor of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, Wish Farms is adding more acreage to its strawberry growing operation in Florida.
Founded in 1987, G&D Farms is named after the original founders of the company, Gershon and Daniel. Before the addition of land, it was already widely regarded as the largest contiguous strawberry farm in the world.
The purchase adds more than 800 acres of land, of which approximately 600 will be used for cultivation. The rest are natural wetlands, which will not be disturbed for biodiversity and environmental sustainability.
“Not only is the land directly adjacent to our current farm, but we can immediately start growing organically,” said farm manager Chris Parks. “The soil has not been used for many years, so we can bypass the regulated waiting period. This gives us a lot of flexibility with the rotation, ensuring that we are good stewards of the land. “
Wish Farms will be cultivating 55 acres this coming season, with a gradual ramp-up with each subsequent season.
While the Sweet Sensation variety accounts for over 90% of the strawberries grown there, the company is always on the lookout for the next tastiest strawberry. Several rows are dedicated to 100 new variety and seedling trials. Almost 7 acres have been planted with the much anticipated white strawberry. Wish Farms tagged them Pink-A-Boo Pineberries.
“I think there will be a strong demand for Pink-A-Boos in the years to come, and this land will allow us to expand this program without having to reduce our red strawberry acreage,” said Gary Wishnatzki, owner by Wish Farms.
G&D also uses innovative techniques that help reduce its use of non-organic pesticides. The release of the predatory persimilis mites began as a biological method to control two-spotted spider mites.
“The same effective organic method has worked very well for our non-organic crop,” Parks said. “This season we started experimenting with drones that light up and let go. If it works, it could be a big plus for the efficiency of our farm.