The sizing of Florida’s early bell pepper was off because the crowns got blown off and the plants then set a lot of limb fruit, Rumble said. “It just doesn’t get very big, but that’s a common occurrence this early in the deal.”
Heat was affecting cucumbers until late October, as well.
“On the front end, the cucumbers don’t color up as well as you’d like,” said Craig Sovine, salesman for Goodson Farms Inc., Balm, Fla. “But what we’re coming into now, the color is much better and it will continue to get much better.”
Although it may have caused some headaches with bacteria in some parts of the state, Florida’s heavy summer rains will help growers in the long run, Sovine said.
“The weather we had this summer has been very beneficial in bringing up the water table,” he said. “It’s going to be very good quality this year.”
Bushel cartons of cucumbers were going for $16.85 in late October. By early December last year, f.o.b.s ranged from $8-8.35 for medium to $5-5.35 for small and as little as $4 for fair quality, according to the USDA.
Fall cucumber plantings stand at 4,000 acres, according to the statistics service. That’s up from 3,500 acres last fall but down from the 4,700 harvested acres in fall 2000.
In the central and southern parts of the state, vegetable crops in general look to be in good shape, growers said, though some planting schedules may have been disrupted because of rains.
“Right now we’re very happy with the stage everything is in,” said Roy Lee Smith, a partner in Magnolia Packing Inc., Americus, Ga., which operates a packinghouse near LaBelle, Fla. “We dodged a lot of the heavy rains. We’ve been fortunate.”
Smith said his firm would begin picking snap beans first in late October, and within a week to 10 days would be harvesting and packing a half dozen commodities. That would overlap only slightly with the tail end of the Georgia vegetable deal, he said.
Robert Wilson, president of Wilson & Son Sales Inc., Plant City, Fla., said the growing season has been great.
“It’s about like the plan,” he said.
Beans, Wilson said, should be in ample supply by Nov. 10 and plentiful for Thanksgiving promotions. Some growers are a little late coming on because of late planting caused by wet field conditions, he said.