Florida fall vegetables to start, fewer cucumbers expected - The Packer

Florida fall vegetables to start, fewer cucumbers expected

10/09/2013 12:26:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Though heavy rains disrupted late summer plantings, growers don’t expect the disruptions to significantly affect the starts of most Florida fall vegetables.

While bell peppers, green beans and tomatoes should begin on time, the interruptions will push back the beginning of sweet corn harvesting closer to Thanksgiving, according to grower-shippers.

Jim Monteith, sales manager for Utopia Packing LLC,Doug OhlemeierJim Monteith, sales manager for Myakka City, Fla.-based Utopia Packing LLC, inspects some early plantings of bell peppers in early October. Though heavy rains disrupted early plantings, grower-shippers say they expect most deals to begin on-time in mid- to late October and in November. Florida cucumbers should start on time, around early November.

Because of excessive August and September heat that matured Georgia’s crop earlier than normal, Georgia volume could be short until Florida begins, said Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc.

“Georgia is on the downhill side of our cucumber production,” Lytch said in mid-October. “During the last two weeks of October, cucumbers will become so light and be pretty tight. We will have cucumbers, but volume won’t be nearly what we’re used to.”

Lytch characterized cucumber markets as extremely high. In mid-October, quoted $20 for 1 1/9 bushel cartons of waxed supers from south Georgia.

In central Florida, Myakka City-based Utopia Packing LLC, a division of Utopia Farms, plans to begin harvesting bell peppers by Oct. 20, right on time, said Jim Monteith, sales manager.

Monteith said Utopia expects to start with small volume during the first week but enter peak volume in early November.

“The quality looks really good,” he said in early October. “The bells have been progressing very nicely.”

Though he couldn’t point to any concrete numbers, Monteith said he’s hearing central Florida growers planted fewer acres.

In early October, Monteith said Georgia had just started its harvesting and quoted 1 1/9 bushel cartons of jumbos from south Georgia selling for $14-16.

Georgia typically begins production in late September and early October.

In early October, Georgia was harvesting very light volume of corn.

Jon Browder, sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, said rains disrupted several weeks of planting and sent prices higher.

In mid-October, he quoted $12-15 for wirebound crates of 4-4 1/2 dozen yellow, white and bicolor corn from south Georgia.

Browder said he expects Georgia harvesting to end a week before Thanksgiving, just as Florida was planning to start.

Buyers should expect a normal transition to southern Florida, he said.

“We’re expecting a smooth transition,” Browder said in mid-October. “It should be pretty seamless if we don’t get any more rain on it. We’ve finished planting, but the fall and winter are very light volume times.”

Browder said Pioneer’s growers plan to begin harvesting beans on time, around Nov. 1, in Homestead and a few days later in Belle Glade.

The fall tomato deal is expected to begin on-time in mid-October with small volumes of grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes starting harvest in the Palmetto-Ruskin region, said Gerry Odell, chief farming officer for Lipman.

In central Florida, mature greens and romas shouldn’t begin production until early November, he said in mid-October.

“Central Florida has had a lot of rain,” Odell said. “We should start with light yields, but we do have fruit set. We don’t expect to have any real big volume as we start off.”

Odell characterized early fall tomato markets as sloppy.

He said prices have been fairly high.

Because of the government shutdown, the U.S. Department of Agriculture wasn’t reporting prices in mid-October.

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