Florida sweet corn, beans feel frost’s bite

03/20/2009 12:00:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Central Florida production

Central Florida bean production, which usually starts the first week of April, this year should start a week late for Cheriton, Va.-based C&E Farms Inc., which grows 600 acres — down from last season’s 700 acres — in Parrish, Fla.

Mark Colson, operations manager, said he expects prices to drop to $10.

“We are not really sure on what to expect, but they won’t be $30 by the time we get started,” he said. “It will likely be more in the $10-15 range.”

C&E plans to finish its central Florida harvesting in mid-May before moving to its Eastern Shore pickings.

South Florida’s corn deal, marketed from Belle Glade, normally has Homestead finishing by the end of March with Belle Glade volume picking up in early March and running through Memorial Day before Georgia volume starts.

Biederman said he thinks the cooler weather may push Homestead volume into April.

Prices for bell peppers and squash began falling in mid-March.

Michael Shier, sales manager for the vegetable department of Immokalee-based Six L’s Packing Co. Inc., said favorable weather in mid-March was beginning hasten crop growth. That, and more Florida East Coast pepper volume than initially forecast, lowered south Florida pepper and squash prices.

He said he expected Immokalee’s spring deals to start in early April.

Pepper and squash

According to the USDA, in early March, 1 1/9-bushel cartons and crates of green jumbos and extra larges sold for $20.35-20.85 but by mid-March declined to $18.35-18.85 for jumbos and $16.35-18.85 for extra larges.

That brings prices a little higher than last season in early spring.

Mexican green jumbos and extra larges in mid-March sold for $28.95.

Squash in mid-March was selling for $15-16.85 for ½- and 5/9-bushel crates and cartons of yellow straightneck small with mediums selling for $13-14.85, down from $20-21.85 for small and $23-23.85 for mediums in early March; 3/4 bushel cartons of yellow crookneck small in mid-March sold for $21-23, down a little from $23-23.85 earlier in the month and mediums remained unchanged at $16-16.85.

Green zucchini squash small remained at $10-10.85 for small and medium.

Shier said yellow squash sustained more freeze damage than the green, and that western supplies kept the green markets depressed.

Meanwhile, prices for south Florida tomatoes remained low.

According to the USDA, 25-pound cartons of loose mature greens 85% U.S. No. One or better 5x6s in mid-March sold for $7.95; flats of 12 1-pint baskets with lids of cherry tomatoes, $11.95-12.95; for grapes, flats of 12 1-pint baskets sold for $9.95-11.95; on romas, 25-pound loose cartons of extra large sold for $8.95.


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