A partnership will help a leading Florida sweet corn grower-shipper expand to year-round production.
Pioneer Growers Co-op is working with Holley, N.Y.-based James J. Piedimonte & Sons Inc., and Anthony J. Piedimonte/Cabbco, to summer supply corn with 700 newly planted acres.
The acreage should help the Belle Glade, Fla.-based Pioneer close the late July to late September gap between the ending of Georgia’s summer crop and the start of that state’s fall harvesting in late September, said Gene Duff, Pioneer’s executive vice president and general manager.
“As our primary customer base is up and down the East Coast, this will be very convenient to help us supply our customers,” he said. “Tony and his family have been in the business for quite a number of years. We look forward to them growing a real quality type of crop and a partnership that could last for many years.”
The partnership involves Piedimonte & Sons growing and harvesting the western New York bulk and tray pack yellow, white and bicolor corn while Pioneer plans to market its half, Duff said.
Piedimonte & Sons’ entrance into corn follows the January sale of Hurley, N.Y.-based Gill Corn Farms Inc.’s acreage and growing operations to the New York-based NoVo Foundation, funded primarily by investor Warren Buffett.
In mid-July, Piedimonte & Sons installed new cooling and packing equipment.
“Naturally, I think there are some opportunities with Gill getting out of it, so we’re picking up where Gill left off,” said Tony Piedimonte, Piedimonte & Sons and Piedimonte/Cabbco’s owner. “This partnership is good for both of us. It gives them (Pioneer) a stronghold to carry on their business plan in the Northeast with a big facility ready to go.”
Though the deal is limited to corn, Duff said Pioneer could gain access to Piedimonte & Sons’ other vegetables, including green beans and cabbage, and in the future, consider expanding corn production.
The six-generation, family-owned Piedimonte operation, which also grows cucumbers and tomatoes, traces to the 1904.
Founded in 1950, Pioneer grows from nearly 14,000 acres of corn as well as more than 6,000 acres of beans, cabbage, radishes and celery.