Rain disrupts supply of Florida produce

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

Tomato growers began light harvesting of central Florida grapes and cherries in mid- to late October.

Tony DiMare, vice president of the Homestead-based DiMare Co., said demand was strong as a smaller than normal Eastern Shore deal finished production in early October.

“The crop looks good to start with,” DiMare said about Florida production in mid-October. “The fruit set looks pretty good. The quality set so far looks good too. On sizing, it’s too early to tell.”

Promotable volumes

Central Florida mature-greens and romas typically begin in late October and DiMare said he expects the state to produce heavy promotable volume in mid- to late November.

Jeff Williams, president of Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, said he expects central Florida’s cabbage deal to begin on time in mid-December.

“Florida volume this year should be about the same, maybe a little less,” he said in mid-October. “Quality looks good.”

Buyers should expect an earlier seasonal start for central Florida strawberries.

Favorable weather during fall plantings helped growers transplant a week earlier than normal and should see shippers sending larger volumes to the market ahead of normal, said Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer of Plant City-based Wish Farms.

“We are anticipating having fruit before Thanksgiving this year,” he said in mid-October. “Buyers should expect larger volume early. We anticipate having some early production this year.”

By mid-November, Florida’s citrus growers were harvesting high volumes of grapefruit, oranges and tangerines.

“We are in full swing, finally,” Matt Reel, director of sales for Vero Beach-based IMG Citrus Inc., said Oct. 17. “We had some rain that delayed the harvest a little but now we have had some dry weather and cooler temperatures that helped get us back in the swing.”

Reel characterized quality as high and said he’s seeing larger-sized navels.

To help promote the state’s bounty, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is boosting its retail promotional program through increased funding.

Dan Sleep, senior analyst with the department’s division of marketing, said this season looks to be a favorable one.

“The weather has been kind to us,” he said in early October. “We don’t have a drought for a change. This should be a good year for our guys. We’re looking for good production and good growth.”


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