Rain disrupts supply of Florida produce

11/02/2012 03:23:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

PLANT CITY, Fla. — Buyers should expect this season’s Florida vegetables to start slow and variably.

Rain that drenched the Sunshine State in late summer and early fall should cause small shortages of supply during the start of some of this season’s vegetables, including sweet corn, green beans and bell peppers.

Reports of lower planted acreage could also affect prices.

Some areas received as much as 16 inches from Hurricane Isaac and additional rains continued to disrupt some growers’ plantings.

“Across the state, we have had a very rainy and wet late summer and early fall planting season,” Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing for Loxahatchee-based J&J Produce Inc., said Oct. 16.

“It has been very tropical, though we haven’t had any hurricanes. Some growers are late planting because it has been too wet. Some who planted on time and had early plantings may have yield reductions due to the unusually wet weather,” he said.

Smooth transition from Georgia

Overall, though, Rayfield said the deal should work well.

He said he expects a smooth transition from Georgia to Florida and in mid-October said Georgia growers were experiencing favorable growing conditions while Florida’s rains ended.

Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., said he’s hearing growers report fewer planted acres, particularly in bell peppers, cucumbers and squash.

“I think everyone should be expecting less production,” Lytch said in mid-October. “That reduction is due to depressed markets from last year and they’re still not recovering from the freeze events in the prior two years.”

Lytch said Florida’s crops look strong and characterized quality as better than recent years.

The rain is expected to affect Belle Glade corn and beans.

“The fall crops in the Glades have been extremely hampered by rain, ours’ and everyone else’s,” Gene Duff, executive vice president and general manager of Pioneer Growers Co-op, said in mid-October. “We expect to have very spotty supplies when we get down to Belle Glade sometime in November.”

While Florida usually begins corn harvesting Nov. 10-15 as Georgia starts to finish, Duff said the transition this year should be “pretty tough.”

Because of planting schedules, corn growers — unlike other Georgia growers — can’t continue harvesting, so Duff said he doesn’t expect Georgia to run late and help boost late fall supplies as Florida enters the deal with smaller than normal volume.


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