Though declining to state prices, Bedsole said south Florida lettuce is garnering higher prices than California.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture wasn’t reporting prices for Florida iceberg lettuce in late February, but on Feb. 28 reported these f.o.b. prices for California’s Imperial, Coachella and Palo Verde valleys: cartons of 24s sold for $5-6.50.
Shiver called the market average. He said California overproduction helped keep prices low.
South Florida growers ship iceberg, romaine, red leaf, green leaf, boston, escarole, endive, napa, baby bok choy, parsley and cilantro.
Florida growers usually begin production in early December and finish by early May.
This year’s season opened a little warmer than normal but growing conditions so far remain favorable, Bedsole said.
“Demand has been good,” he said in late February. “The quality is helping move it along.”
Bedsole called Florida volume strong.
He said California late winter volumes remain strong and that growing region which sets the markets didn’t experience any adverse weather.
Bedsole called prices a little below normal.
The USDA on Feb. 28 reported f.o.b. prices for cartons and crates of 2 dozen hearts from south Florida selling for $7.95-8.95 with 2 1/2 dozen and 3 dozen fetching $7.95-8.95 and carton film bags heart 18s garnering $13.10-14.10.
During the same period last year, the USDA reported cartons and crates of 2 dozen from south Florida marketing for $16.95.
Responding to customer demand, Pioneer Growers Co-op increased its acreage by a small amount.
Citing competitive concerns, Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager, declined to state acreage.
“This year’s crop looks fantastic,” he said in late February. “The quality looked great right out of the gate.”
Pioneer began harvesting in early January.
South Florida’s celery deal typically starts in late December and early January and runs through late April.