South Georgia grower-shippers say they’re looking for a typical fall season.
During the fall, the region produces a variety of vegetables, including bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, sweet corn, green beans, eggplant and cabbage.
While growers in late August were finishing transplanting bell peppers, they expected to begin squash production in early to mid-September, cucumbers, mid- to late September and start pepper harvesting in early October.
The region’s corn and bean deals normally begin in early to mid-October while cabbage harvesting typically starts in November.
Grower-shippers anticipate strong demand.
“With the East Coast having a lot of issues up north of us, things seem to be tightening,” Harry Sheaffer, vice president of Lake Park, Ga.-based Fresh Link Consolidation LLC, the sales agent for Coggins Farm and Produce Inc., said in mid-August.
“Depending on the droughts and storms and depending on what part of the country you’re in, we should start up with pretty decent demand and hopefully see good markets.”
Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing for J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, Fla., which grows and ships from Adel, Ga., said the extreme heat in the north and Midwest brought many plantings on earlier than normal and should cause premature endings.
Rayfield said that should make for less product in September as Georgia begins production.
“Retailers should expect better quality than they’ve been used to in July and August,” Rayfield said in mid-August. “They’ve had a lot of product coming from many different areas.
“This will be a good transition for the retailers. They will be able to promote product in the fall of the year when it’s cooling before it gets into the winter. It will be a great stepping stone from the summer deals into Georgia and Florida.”
In mid- and late August, growers reported plantings to be on time.
“Everything is on schedule,” said Calvert Cullen, president of Cheriton, Va.-based Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., which grows and ships from Georgia, Florida and Virginia. “We should have the same amount of acreage. It’s still a little bit dry, but it isn’t too bad.”
Jon Schwalls, director of operations for Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable Inc., Norman Park, Ga., said growers enjoyed a nice spring.
“We had a very good crop,” Schwalls said. “Prices overall were good for the spring and we had a good, sound and solid crop.”
On corn and beans, Gary Stafford, a salesman and green beans manager for Hugh H. Branch Inc., Pahokee, Fla., said the spring deal went well.
“Volume, quality and prices were all good,” he said. “You had good demand, which went real smoothly. “
Part of the reason for the strong spring, Stafford said, was because Georgia, like Florida, began production a little earlier than normal. That extended the deal a couple of additional weeks, he said.
In late August, Branch’s Georgia growers were planting crops.
Except for cabbage, the region’s production normally finishes by the first freeze in mid- to late November as Florida ramps up production in October and November.