IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Southern Corporate Packers Inc. is expanding its acreage and moving into greenhouse production.

Southern Corporate Packers adds greenhouses, expands acreageThe expansions help make the grower-shipper a bigger player in the bell pepper deal.

This fall, Southern Corporate Packers planted 1,000 acres of pepper, cucumbers, squash and eggplant, up from 300 acres last year, said Brian Arrigo, president.

The growth follows a deal struck over the summer with Can-Am Pepper Co. LP in Madison, Wis., and Southern Corporate Packers’ growing greenhouse pepper.

Can-Am plans to market Southern Corporate Packers’ off grades for use in processing allowing Southern Corporate Packers to focus on fresh sales, Arrigo said.

“We are a stronger and bigger company with this partnership,” he said. “We’re aiming to be a full-service pepper house. This will allow us to take our largest and best quality product to the fresh market and increase our volume to provide year-round supplies.”

Arrigo said Can-Am is one of the largest U.S. processing pepper companies.

Southern Corporate Packers adds greenhouses, expands acreageIn the greenhouse deal, Southern Corporate Packers plans to market 200,000 cartons of green, red, yellow and orange peppers from 10 acres of greenhouses southeast of Immokalee.

Owned and farmed by Daniel Samet of Pinnacle Lane Farms, the greenhouses were destroyed by Hurricane Wilma which struck south Florida in 2005.

Arrigo said he expects to harvest his first crop of greenhouse peppers Nov. 1.

While the season roughly parallels that of Arrigo’s field-grown peppers, he said the leased greenhouses provide continuous harvesting vs. a month of production from the field product.

Production is scheduled to run through May.

The greenhouse operation makes Southern Corporate Packers one of the few East Coast hothouse pepper shippers, Arrigo said.

Southern Corporate Packers also grows and ships squash, cucumbers, eggplant and watermelon.