Florida to Georgia transition could bring gaps

05/24/2013 09:03:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

The transition from central Florida to southern Georgia is bringing lighter-than-normal volume on some vegetables.

As Florida grower-shippers wind down production, Georgia growers are starting two to three weeks later than normal.

click image to zoomThe transition from central Florida to southern Georgia is bringing lighter-than-normal volume on some vegetables. Southern Valley Fruit & VegetableA south Georgia bell pepper field in late April. The transition from central Florida to southern Georgia is bringing lighter-than-normal volume on some vegetables. Though Dug Schwalls, sales director for Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable Inc., Norman Park, Ga., said Georgia’s early season crops look strong, he said the two deals aren’t producing large volumes of bell peppers and cucumbers.

Schwalls said west Mexico is bringing abundant supplies.

He said he doesn’t expect Georgia to bring larger supplies until early to mid-June.

“The transition has hit but central Florida isn’t as big as it use to be,” Schwalls said May 20.

“There is more of a gap than a transition. We should be starting with pepper by now but because we haven’t, there isn’t enough in Florida. There’s just a little in north Florida now.”

In late May, C&D Fruit & Vegetable Co. Inc., Bradenton, Fla., finished harvests of squash and green beans.

It plans to end its peppers and cucumbers in early June before transitioning to Georgia.

C&D expects to begin harvesting watermelons May 28, later than the typical early May start, said Steve O’Brien, vice president.

“Everything’s late,” he said in late May.

“We’re just starting our new cucumbers, which are very late. Quality here has been good but with this heat, we hope Georgia will crank up quickly. The transition will be fine. Trucks will be tight as they usually are. Plus, labor’s been real tough.”

Utopia Packing LLC, a division of Utopia Farms, Myakka City, Fla., plans to finish pepper harvesting in early June.

“The volume is steadily decreasing here in central Florida,” Jim Monteith, sales manager, said May 20.

“We have really started to see it in the last couple of days. Size-wise, jumbos are really almost nonexistent. Extra larges are being the peak in size as we move further into the season.”

A colder than normal March harmed spring yields and Monteith said it isn’t surprising that late season markets are higher than usual.

In late May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported these prices for bell peppers for all Florida districts: 1 1/9-bushel cartons of jumbos selling at $20.35; extra larges, $18.35-20.35; large, $16.35-18.35; and medium, $14.35-14.35.

According to the USDA, 1 1/9-bushel cartons of waxed medium cucumbers from south Georgia in late May sold for $18.35-18.85 with cartons of 24s selling for $7.35-8.85.


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