Florida spring production escapes winter freeze problems - The Packer

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.


“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.”


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

“Demand is fair, but the biggest thing that has impacted movement for all in the produce business is these winter storms,” Tony DiMare, vice president of the Homestead-based DiMare Co., said in late February.

DiMare said January’s freezing temperatures caused some minor losses to the early part of central Florida’s mid- to late April mature-greens crop and forced growers to replant.


Though late January freezes hammered Florida’s winter sweet corn and green beans, the cold didn’t affect the bulk of the spring deal, which is expected to begin volume in mid- to late April.

Spring beans should start on-time by mid-March with corn beginning harvesting by early April, grower-shippers report.

“In late March and April, we should have excellent quality and volume going into the spring,” Jon Browder, sales manager for Belle Glade-based Pioneer Growers Co-op, said in late February.

Grower-shippers expect to finish grapefruit shipments in early May, a little earlier than usual, while late season valencia oranges were bringing high eating quality.

“The grapefruit is tasting really good so retailers should forgive the extra scars, as we’ve had a tough season,” Mark Hanks, vice president of North American sales and marketing for Fort Pierce-based DNE World Fruit Sales, said in late February. “Demand has been good all season as it’s been tough finding the lots to pick because of the smaller sizings.”

While Florida’s strawberry shipments typically peak in March and begin ending by the end of the month, growers usually start harvesting blueberries in light volume in mid- to late March.

“The fruit looks really good,” Brian Bocock, vice president of product management for Naturipe Farms LLC, Salinas, Calif., said in late February. “The crop looks really strong, and barring any weather events we should see increased production from Florida this year.”

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