PALMETTO, Fla. — After starting mature greens 10 days later than last season, Florida tomato grower-shippers expect to begin full volume of fall shipments in mid-November.
Growers began light harvesting of grapes, cherries, romas and mature greens in late October.
Central Florida’s fall season normally starts around Halloween with harvesting building until mid- to late November, when promotable volume typically hits.
Tony DiMare, vice president of the DiMare Co., Homestead, said buyers should expect the Palmetto-Ruskin growing region to start promotable volumes by Nov. 18.
While DiMare began harvesting grape tomatoes in mid-October, it started romas and mature greens in late October, nearly two weeks behind last fall which was an earlier than normal start, he said.
DiMare said the west Florida deal near Quincy isn’t producing a lot of volume this season and also started two weeks later than usual.
He called Quincy’s quality good and characterized sizings as only fair.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Quincy growers so far this season have shipped 87 40,000-pound units, 47% of the 185 40,000 pound units they shipped last season in early November.
Quincy normally starts in early September and ships through late November.
DiMare said central Florida has experienced hot and dry growing conditions, but not as hot as last season, which kicked many blooms and made for poor plant sets.
“The quality of the fruit coming off that we started has been very good,” he said in early November. “The size has been very good. The yields have been respectable on the rounds.”
East Coast Brokers and Packers Inc., Mulberry, began harvesting grapes and cherries in mid-October and its mature greens in early November.
Batista Madonia Jr., vice president of sales and operations, said he expects more consistent volume to hit the week of Nov. 15.
“From what I am seeing, the crop looks very good and we should have good volume,” he said in early November. “We have had a good growing season and are in shape to produce a fine crop.”
Madonia and DiMare called early fall demand sluggish and quoted $9.95 for 5x6s, 6x6s and 6x7s.
The USDA on Nov. 5 quoted $8.95-9.95 for 25-pound cartons of loose mature greens 85% U.S. No. One or better for those sizes from central Florida.
That’s significantly lower than last season in mid-November when the USDA reported $25.95 for 5x6s, $23.95 for 6x6s and $21.95 for 6x7s from central Florida.
For USDA reported the same prices for mature greens from Quincy.
For cherry tomatoes from central Florida, the USDA in early November reported $9.95-10.95 for flats of 12 1-pint containers with lids, lower than last year in early November when those flats sold for $15.95-16.95.
On central Florida grape tomatoes, flats of 12 1-pint containers with lids marketed for $5.95-6.95; 20-pound cartons of loose grapes sold for $10.95-11.95, down from last year’s $15.95-16.95 for the clamshells and $29.95-30.95 for the bulk cartons.
Romas from central Florida in early November sold for $10.95-11.95 for 25-pound cartons for large, $9.95-10.95 for medium and smalls selling for $7.95-8.95.
Last fall, extra large sold for $19.95, large, $18.95-19.95 and mediums, $16.95.
While central Florida usually finishes harvesting in late December, Immokalee and south Florida typically start harvesting in late November with volume hitting in December.