Southeast expects normal deals

02/28/2014 03:34:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

South, central and north Florida production typically finish shipments by early to mid-May.

Georgia

Georgia is pegged to start harvesting in mid-April on its southern highbush crop with peak production expected during the first 10 days of May, said Brian Bocock, the Grand Junction, Mich.-based vice president of product management for Naturipe Farms LLC in Salinas, Calif.

The state’s second crop, the rabbiteye, usually starts in late May and harvests through early July.

“The southern highbush crop looks good,” Bocock said in mid-February. “The rabbiteyes now look good. We anticipate some production to start the last week of May but the traditional rabbiteye peak still looks to be normal timing, from June 5-20.”

Bocock said the transition from Florida to Georgia normally works well.

The freezing weather that hit Georgia and the Southeast in January and early February caused a 10% to 15% loss of early production, said Alpine’s Spivey.

“We had some really cold conditions,” he said in mid-February. “We probably lost the first few stages of some of our earlier varieties, but that could in turn help us on those varieties with better sizings because the bushes won’t be as loaded. We should get our highbush peak by mid-May.”

In mid-February, the bushes were beginning to bloom a little, said Joe Cornelius, president of Manor, Ga.-based J&B Blueberry Farms Inc., and chairman of the Atlanta-based Agricultural Commodity Commission on Blueberries.

“Things are looking very good,” he said in mid-February. “We have a lot of weather to go through to get there, but everything looks good so far. We have the potential for another record crop.”

North Carolina

The Tar Heel State’s growers typically begin harvesting in mid-May with production peaking around Memorial Day.

Shipments usually run through mid-July.

Acreage has increased in the region and growers are expecting a strong season, Bocock said.

He said the transition from Georgia and North Carolina to New Jersey and Michigan usually works well but can become “dicey.”

The southern growing regions typically finish in early and mid-July.

“It’s a time period where you really have to plan and work things out with our retail partners and set up promotions accordingly to move the volumes of fruit we need,” Bocock said.

Last year’s transition went well, primarily because heavy late-season rains halted Georgia’s late-season production, he said.

Those rains made the season difficult for growers, said Julie Woodcock, executive director of the North Carolina Blueberry Council Inc., Atkinson.

She said the losses didn’t become as destructive as growers had feared.


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