Central Florida vegetables transitioning to south Florida

12/18/2012 03:58:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

The central Florida fall deal, which typically ends by late December, is finishing and growers expect to transition to south Florida production by early January.

central Florida bell peppersDoug OhlemeierHarvesting of central Florida vegetables including these bell peppers in Myakka City, Fla., is winding down. Grower-shippers say buyers should expect normal vegetable supplies as fall volume transitions to wintertime production in south Florida. In mid-December, Jim Monteith, sales manager for Myakka City, Fla.-based Utopia Packing LLC, said its parent company, Utopia Farms, was finishing central Florida harvesting of bell peppers and started harvesting light volumes from Immokalee, Fla.

Monteith said he expects Immokalee volume to increase by early January and characterized quality as high and said the crop is producing thick walled peppers with blocky shapes.

On Dec. 18, Monteith quoted 1-1/9 bushel cartons of jumbos and extra-large from central Florida selling for $12 on the jumbos, $10 for the extra-larges and $8 for the choice, prices he said were typical for the time of year.

“Demand has been real good,” he said. “It was a little weak there for a few weeks when we were competing with Mexico for the Midwest business, but we’re not selling a lot of pepper there. Our volume was light so we didn’t compete with Mexico going west and we had enough business up and down the Eastern Seaboard to take the volume of pepper we were producing at that time.”

For south Florida sweet corn, Jon Browder, sales manager for Belle Glade, Fla.-based Pioneer Growers Co-op, said heavy rains disrupted plantings and caused lower December Belle Glade volume.

Buyers shouldn’t notice any significant supply disruptions and Browder in mid-December said Pioneer was receiving Homestead corn.

central Florida bell peppersDoug OhlemeierCentral Florida bell peppers in Myakka City, Fla., in late September.Because of seasonal variations, Belle Glade typically produces considerably smaller winter corn volume, with Homestead producing the bulk of the state’s winter corn.

“Quality has been excellent,” Browder said Dec. 18. “There’s just not enough volume now. Come January, we should have more Belle Glade and Homestead corn and see decent volumes through the end of January.”

Browder quoted $12-14 for wirebound crates of 4-4 1/2 dozen from south Florida.

On green beans, Browder said quality is excellent and characterized demand as strong.

He quoted $14 for bushel cartons/crates of machine- and hand-picked round green beans.

In mid-December, the USDA reported these prices for squash from all districts of Florida: 1/2 bushel cartons zucchini small $10.35-11.35, medium, $8-9.85; yellow straightneck small, $11-12.35, medium, $8.95-10; 3/4 bushel cartons of yellow crookneck small, $10-10.35 with mediums $6-6.35.


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