(UPDATED COVERAGE, March 8) Low temperatures have damaged as much as a quarter of south Florida’ spring sweet corn and harmed the region’s green beans.
The temperatures sunk into the mid-20s during the overnight hours of March 4 affected demand and sent bean prices soaring.
Doug OhlemeierFreezing temperatures damaged as much as a 25% of south Florida’ spring sweet corn crop. These plantings are shown in early February south of Belle Glade, Fla. “There are no beans on the lake (Lake Okeechobee region),” Gary Stafford, salesman and green beans manager with Hugh H. Branch Inc., South Bay, Fla., said March 7. “We’re hearing $35 for beans. We have had weather events that knocked out our productivity. The wind we had a couple of weeks ago and heavy rains accompanied by freeze events this week, they have eliminated our production.”
While prices increased for beans, early March saw little initial movement on corn.
On March 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said white corn was in light supply and reported wirebound crates of 4-4 1/2 dozen yellow and bicolor corn selling for $10.35-12.35 while white fetched $12.35-14.35.
For beans, the USDA on March 6 reported supply was insufficient to establish a market, but the day before reported bushel cartons/crates of handpicked round green beans from central and south Florida at $24.85-26.85 with machine-picked selling for $24.85-26.95.
That’s higher than in mid-February when handpicked cartons sold for $14.85, rising to $20-22.85 in late February.
Stafford on March 7 quoted similar prices for corn.
“We have damage and are looking at 20%-25% of the corn crop being lost,” Arthur Kirstein, coordinator for the office of agricultural economic development for the Palm Beach County Extension Service, West Palm Beach, Fla., said on March 6. “It got to 25 degrees in some specific areas for quite a while.”
“It seems like there was quite a bit of damage around but we’re not sure on the acreage,” said Jon Browder, sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, on March 6. “Temperatures hit as low as 27-28 degrees in some areas where there were pockets of cold and we had 30-35 degrees in general temperatures for a couple hours.”
Kirstein said he expects growers to replant some of Palm Beach County’s 20,000-24,000 acres of corn, which typically is harvested starting in early April.
Other vegetables, berries and citrus escaped damage.
Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer of Wish Farms, Plant City, Fla., said freeze protection systems helped protect central Florida’s blueberries.