California’ production typically ends in early November.
Reggie Brown, manager of the Maitland-based Florida Tomato Committee and executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange, said growers opened the new season with steady prices that were higher than last year’s disastrous markets.
“The season started relatively slow-paced and is continuing to build some volume, but not great volume,” he said.
During the 2011-12 season, which ended in June, Florida tomato growers packed 38.1 million 25-pound equivalent cartons of mature-green tomatoes, up from the 36.1 million they packed in 2010-11, Brown said.
The past season, however, produced a $256 million crop, considerably lower than $431 million the previous year, Brown said.
Brown said he isn’t certain how many acres growers planted this year as he said the U.S. Department of Agriculture discontinued an acreage survey.
Most growers, including DiMare, say the industry planted fewer acres.
According to the last USDA figures, Florida growers planted 32,000 acres in 2010-11.
Rick Feighery, vice president of sales for Philadelphia-based Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. and Plant City-based Santa Sweets Inc., said central Florida grape tomatoes started on a high note.
“They look very nice,” he said. “The little bit of rain had a bit of an effect and helped quality. Overall, it looks to pretty good.”
Michael Lacey, director of sales and marketing for Wimauma-based Tomato Thyme Corp., said Tomato Thyme plans to finish harvesting its north Florida Tasti-Lee round reds and vine-ripes in Jennings in mid-December, after the season’s first freeze.
“The north Florida tomatoes are really nice,” he said. “We anticipate a really nice pick this year from north Florida. And everything looks good and is on-track in central Florida. The weather has been cooperating.”
Lacey said growers were preparing for central Florida and said expected to finish transplanting in late November.