BELLE GLADE, Fla. — The early January freezes damaged south Florida winter eggplant and caused minor damage to radishes.
Aside from its traditional winter and spring Southern vegetables, Florida also grows and packs other vegetables including eggplant, radishes and broccoli.
Brian Arrigo, president of Southern Corporate Packers Inc., Immokalee, said the Jan. 3-4 freeze destroyed 25% of his eggplant.
Production is returning and buyers should expect adequate supplies, he said in late February.
“It’s all coming back better now with good quality,” Arrigo said. “They look well.”
Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., said the January freeze destroyed all of its fall eggplant. He said he expects spring production to return on time in mid-March.
“They’re not set on the plant yet,” he said in late February.
“The plants themselves look fine. From the time they start popping out and show, they’re usually ready in about 10 days.”
Aside from the one freeze, Lytch called fall growing conditions strong and said the deal produced high volume. He called prices favorable.
Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing for J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, said eggplant prices remained “strong and steady” since Florida began production.
“The market has been $12-14 and quality has been good,” he said in late February. “There seems to be just the right amount.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture in late February reported 1 1/9-bushel cartons medium from central and south Florida selling for $16.35-16.35 with fair quality at $8.35-10.35, that’s higher than in mid-February when those same quantities sold for $12.35-14.35 with fair quality at $6.35-8.35.
Last year in late February, the USDA reported Florida supplies were insufficient and in too few hands to establish a market, so it in late February reported these prices for Mexican eggplant crossing through Nogales, Ariz.: 1 bushel, 1 1/9-bushel and 1 1/6 bushel cartons of wrapped 18-24s selling for $26.95 with fair quality at $20.95.
Chris Tordonato, sales manager of Florida Specialties Inc., Immokalee, called eggplant quality strong.
“They look well,” he said in late February.
“The growing season has been fine. We have had a warmer winter. Eggplant struggles when it’s cold.”
Florida Specialties’ growers plan to begin harvesting in late March.