Florida spring production escapes winter freeze problems

03/11/2014 02:16:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Jeff WilliamsDoug OhlemeierJeff Williams, president of Wimauma, Fla.-based Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC examines green cabbage in late January. A cold winter produced less volume and should make for a more active spring cabbage market, Williams says.IMMOKALEE, Fla. — After a winter that saw rough weather cut into supplies, Florida grower-shippers expect a more favorable spring to bring abundant volume to the marketplace.

Cold January temperatures and heavy rains disrupted plantings and tightened supplies, damaging parts of the deal but didn’t create any big shortages, said Calvert Cullen, president of the Cheriton, Va.-based Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., which grows and ships from South Florida.

“Everything is looking good for the spring as long as we don’t have any more adverse weather,” he said in late February. “I think we should transition well into the spring deal and go right into Georgia production, if everything goes well.”

Supplies of vegetables should increase in early and mid-March, said Brian Rayfield, vice president of business development and marketing for Loxahatchee-based J&J Family of Farms Inc.

“I think you will see an excellent crop in Florida,” he said in late February. “The early plantings look really good. I think retailers and buyers across the country should count on Florida having excellent quality and good supplies as long as there’s no significant weather event to affect production.”

Though Rayfield said he couldn’t quantify it, he said he believes overall Florida spring vegetable acreage is down.

LOOKING GOOD

“Everything now looks good,” Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., said in late February. “The bell pepper crop looks really good. We are just getting ready to start harvesting our spring or after-winter plantings. We have had a good crop all fall and winter long, and we’re getting into more favorable growing conditions.”

Lipman, Immokalee, planned a normal mid-March spring start on bell peppers, cucumbers and squash and expects tomatoes to run in smaller-than-normal volumes through the month before beginning bigger spring volume in late March, said Darren Micelle, chief operating officer.

“We look to have outstanding crops on bells and cucumbers, and look forward to excellent quality and good yields on our bright and thick-walled green peppers,” he said in late February. “The early crops survived the cold nights we had in January, and we expect to have consistent volume in March all the way through May.”

MORE TOMATOES

Buyers should see higher tomato volume when South Florida transitions from the winter crop to spring production in late March.


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