Greens crops escape Southeast rains

12/09/2009 11:16:39 AM
Andy Nelson

While excessive fall rains lashed the Southeast, damaging some crops, Georgia crops were not among them. Growers and officials are reporting good quality and abundant volumes heading into the winter holiday promotion season.

“We’ve had some rain off and on, and two nights where it was close to freezing, but it didn’t affect the quality,” said Shay Kennedy, co-owner, vice president and sales manager of Georgia Vegetable Co. Inc., Tifton, Ga. “The quality has been very nice.”

Kennedy

Georgia Vegetable began shipping greens the first week of October and expects to ship through the end of May, Kennedy said. Thanks to new acreage coming into production, volumes are up over last year at the same time, she said.

Greens production is up this year in Georgia and about the same in Florida for  Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos., said Greg Cardamone, general manager of eastern vegetables.

Cardamone reported good quality and demand for greens, and said harvest should transition from Georgia to Florida about Jan. 1.

“Pricing has been steady since Thanksgiving,” he said. “We feel the current price will be stable through the holidays.”

On Dec. 8, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $7-7.50 for cartons of bunched 24 collards, kale, curly and flat mustard and turnip tops from Georgia, down from $7.50-8 last year at the same time.

Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, La Grange, said he had heard nothing but good reports from the state’s greens growers.

“There’s been a fair amount of rain, but I think everything’s looking OK,” Hall said.

Based on how the first holiday of the season went, Kennedy is optimistic heading into the others.

“Thanksgiving was very good for us — we had a lot of orders on the books,” she said. “And we expect a lot ads to get ready for Christmas.”

Prices are down across the board on Georgia-grown vegetables because of the economic down-turn, Kennedy said, but  greens haven’t been hit as hard as some higher-end vegetable commodities.

“Pricing is up some from last year, but greens are not an item that fluctuates as much as others,” she said.

Georgia Vegetable is shipping a similar mix of turnips, curly and flat mustard, collards and kale greens this season, Kennedy said.



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