Most growers said they expected the season to start on time and with normal volume.
But in northern Georgia, where growers rely more on pond and stream irrigation than their southern counterparts do, Gillespie said cabbage production could be down 30% to 40%. Southern Georgia relies more on deep wells.
“We’re (in the Dillard area) doing cabbage right now,” said Gillespie as of Sept. 24. “But the crop was really damaged severely with the drought. You can pretty well call this down winding down and pretty much finished.”
Normally, he said, the Dillard deal runs until the end of October when packinghouses in Moultrie typically kick in. Gillespie said the Moultrie deal, usually slated for Oct. 25, could be up to 10 days late. It should finish around mid-January when the crop moves to Hastings, Fla.
“There has been some damage there (in Moultrie),” he said. “Is it significant? I don’t think so.”
Similar reports could be heard from Barron, who said despite the drought and a number of his growers’ wells drying up earlier this month, most fields remain in good shape. He said there could be a drop in volume due to the extreme heat — reaching in the upper 100s in mid-July — and its effect on the beans’ bloom drop.
Gillespie said current f.o.b.s for 16-18 head count premium cabbage are $6-7. In late September, the USDA reported $5.50-6 f.o.b.s for 50-pound cartons of round green-type cabbage from Michigan.
Last year, during late November and early December, south Georgia cabbage sold for $3-4.50.
Hamilton-Tyler estimated greens to start by the first of October with cabbage pegged for the middle of the month. She said greens and cabbage should run through the winter. Squash and cucumbers could face a down year.
“The crop looks good,” she said. “Hopefully, we don’t end up getting too much rain from these hurricanes.”