Growers expect steady supplies in shift from Florida to Georgia

10/04/2011 02:47:00 PM
Doug Ohlmeier

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Growers expect a smooth transition from fall Georgia production to Florida vegetable production.

Doug OhlemeierBrian Arrigo, president of Southern Corporate Packers Inc., Immokalee, Fla., examines some bell pepper transplanted in late September. Grower-shippers say they expect a typical transition from south Georgia fall production to Florida late fall production in late October and early November.In mid-September, Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc. began harvesting its squash and cucumbers near Moultrie, Ga., followed by eggplant. It started harvesting bell peppers in early October, said Adam Lytch, operations manager.

“That will carry us on for several more weeks,” he said Oct. 4. “We are to start Oct. 10 in north Florida with squash and eggplant, with bell pepper beginning around the end of October. We expect a smooth transition on all items.”

Lytch said L&M plans for an overlap between south Georgia, north Florida and its south Florida production in the Immokalee region. He said L&M’s north Florida production, near Branford, should help carry volume for a couple of weeks to ensure smooth season finishes and starts.

Though high quality, south Georgia crops aren’t as high yielding as last fall, Lytch said. He said too much heat and rain that hit earlier in the season harmed and made for lighter pepper settings. The subsequent cooler weather the region experienced in early October should help improve production as peppers and eggplant prefer cooler weather, he said.

Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., Cheriton, Va., which has Florida and Georgia operations, began its south Georgia harvesting in late September, a little later than normal.

Calvert Cullen, president, said he normally times his Georgia production to begin a little later so it won’t overlap with his North Carolina farms. This year, because of Hurricane Irene damage which hit North Carolina, Cullen said he wished he had started Georgia sooner.

“I think everyone is pretty well on schedule, for what it sounds like,” Cullen said Oct. 3. “Central Florida plans to start Nov. 1, so it should work out.”

In early October, Northampton had started its Florida transplants and Cullen said he expects to begin south Florida production in mid-November as usual.

Cullen said he is hearing about fewer acres in central and south Florida growing regions.

Others say production of bell peppers, cucumbers and squash should begin on time.

“Everything’s coming on quite well,” said Brian Arrigo, president of Southern Corporate Packers Inc. “Our pepper is in the ground and we have our cucumbers and squash also planted. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the weather stays in our favor. We are looking for a great fall here.”


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