WIMAUMA, Fla. — Due to an oversupply of cabbage, buyers should expect adequate volumes through St. Patrick’s Day.
After the holiday, because of a mid-February freeze that damaged northern producing regions, buyers could see less volume, grower-shippers say.
The Feb. 12 freeze could lessen supply and lift prices in mid- to late March, said Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc.
“I personally think cabbage will be in relatively short supply in April,” he said in late February.
“The way it looks now, we are in store for some cheap prices through St. Patrick’s Day. After that, cabbage will be relatively short.”
Lytch said a large percentage of the state’s cabbage is grown in north Florida in the Palatka and Hastings area.
He said the abnormally mild growing season is producing incredible cabbage.
Mid-February cold that struck central and northern Florida didn’t harm production for Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, president Jeff Williams said.
“We have abundant supplies and quality has been good,” he said in late February. “Weather conditions have been great. Cabbage should be a very promotable item for buyers this spring.”
Crop quality is high and the crop remains on schedule, said Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., Cheriton, Va.
Northampton plans to harvest Florida cabbage April 15-20 before switching to Georgia, Cullen said. He said the transition usually works well.
Prices lower than usual
In late February, 50-pound cartons of round green medium cabbage from north, central and south Florida districts were shipping at $5, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s a decrease from the $12-14 price point reported at the same time last year.
The USDA also reported Feb 22 that red mediums were moving at $8-9 and 45-pound cartons of savoy medium at $7-8, a decrease from last year’s prices of $14 and $12, respectively.
Williams also noted lower-than-typical prices.
He said shippers quoted $10 for 50-pound cartons of round green medium cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day last spring. In late February this year, he said, shippers were quoting $7-8.
Cullen said additional factors are affecting prices.
“I don’t think it’s all about production,” he said.
“There’s just not as much demand. Prices have been rugged this winter. Georgia prices weren’t as bad as they were in Florida, but they weren’t good either, like a $6-7 market. There wasn’t overproduction up there ... Demand seems to be lower, and that’s affected by the price of fuel.”
Favorable growing conditions
For south Florida cabbage, weather and growing conditions were favorable for Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, said Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager.
Biederman said growers were selling cabbage at “floor prices.” The market has remained at $5 for green cabbage since Pioneer began harvesting in early January, he said.
“We have been fortunate because we have Wilson cabbage, a heavy and high-quality cabbage,” he said. “We’ve been able to move it but would like to get the market up.”
Jason Bedsole, sales manager of Eastern vegetables and citrus for Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., said cabbage quality was strong.
He said this season remains a typical year and should produce normal volumes and high quality heads.
Bedsole said Duda was producing promotable volume in late February.
Florida production typically finishes in late April and May before switching to Georgia in mid- to late April.
Georgia’s spring deal runs through early June. Fall production returns in November and finishes in early January. Florida’s fall production commences in late November and early to mid-December.