Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., has increased its plantings and added an additional harvester unit to handle the expected volume.
Jason Bedsole, sales manager of Eastern vegetables and citrus, declined to state Duda’s Belle Glade area acreage but called it a sizeable increase.
“With the weather we have been experiencing, the stands look well,” he said in mid-October. “Everything is emerging well and looking good.”
Florida’s winter lettuce harvesting typically starts in early to mid-December and usually finishes by early April.
Bedsole said Duda plans to start in mid-December.
He said last season went well despite a couple of delays caused by the colder-than-average weather in January and February.
TKM Bengard Farms LLC, Belle Glade, plans to begin harvesting on time Dec. 1.
“We have had a great growing season,” Toby Basore, crop management manager, said in late October. “Last year was too warm, and the deal started early. But this year, we are on-schedule. We have had cool nights and warm and sunny days.”
Basore said TKM expects to be in full volume by mid-December.
Dan Shiver, co-owner of Hugh H. Branch Inc., Pahokee, said Branch’s growers plan to start harvesting around Thanksgiving with volume expected to hit in early December.
“We expect to have normal supplies,” he said in late October. “The quality looks excellent. The weather has been really good.”
Shiver said the cold weather didn’t help last year’s lettuce deal, and he characterized prices as only fair.
He said Branch’s growers, which grow about 600 acres of escarole, endive, romaine, Boston butter lettuce and bibb lettuce as well as curly and plain parsley and Chinese cabbage, are more optimistic this season.
January through March usually marks the state’s prime leaf and lettuce growing season.
Planting starts in late September and runs through October.
According to the USDA, prices for cartons of 24s of romaine lettuce from Salinas, Calif., and Watsonville, Calif., in mid-October Oct. 19 sold for $7.95-9.50.
That’s down from last year when those cartons from Salinas, and Watsonville sold for $12.55-14.56.