BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Though late January cold severely damaged winter production, buyers can still expect normal supplies of south Florida corn and green beans.
A January freeze that destroyed Palm Beach County winter production isn’t expected to disrupt this year’s spring sweet corn crop.
Early spring volume, however, should be lighter than normal, grower-shippers report.
The cold harmed early spring plantings, pushing the deal’s usual late March start into April, said Jon Browder, sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op.
Spring corn harvesting should start in a slow way during the first part of April but become heavier toward Easter, which this year falls on April 20, he said.
“The corn looks good, and everything’s coming on,” he said in late February. “Barring any further weather problems, big volume should start in mid-April, and we should be going full-blast after Easter. With Easter being late, we hope to have good volume through Memorial Day weekend.”
After a late March freeze, production last spring hit the market at the same time in late April and nearly cut Florida’s season in half, Browder said.
Young spring plantings weren’t affected by the first and second January cold snaps, and Belle Glade should produce normal spring supplies, said Brett Bergmann, co-owner of South Bay-based Hugh H. Branch Inc.
In mid-March, Branch’s growers plan to be through harvesting the freeze-damaged corn and expect to start harvesting some of the post-freeze corn in a light way, he said in late February.
“Barring any additional weather problems, we ought to have a really good crop of corn come early April,” Bergmann said. “We will have good volume and be ready to promote. The corn looks really good. We have had good-sized winter fancy corn, and we had a decent winter crop other than the freeze-damaged corn.”
In late February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported these prices for corn from South Florida: wirebound crates of 4-4½ dozen ears of yellow and bicolor selling for $14.40-16.40 and crates of white selling for $16.40.
Last year in late February, yellow and bicolor sold for $12.35-14.35 and white for $16.35.
Accounting for the bulk of winter production, Homestead usually finishes by early April when Belle Glade’s spring deal ramps up.
Belle Glade volume typically ends in late May before Georgia starts.
Though the freezes hurt Belle Glade winter beans, buyers should expect South Florida’s bean deal to begin in early to mid-March as usual, grower-shippers report.
The freeze scarred plants and produced erratic yields, volume and quality through February, but didn’t harm spring plantings, said Gary Stafford, a salesman and green beans manager.
“The quality is really good,” Stafford said in late February. “Unless we get some type of weather event, we are expecting a normal spring start. Overall, the deal’s acreage should be similar to a year ago.”
Last fall brought strong demand and favorable prices for Branch’s growers, Stafford said.
The reduced volume sent prices soaring to $45 a carton in mid-January, said Pioneer’s Browder.
Though Pioneer’s growers planned to begin harvesting in early March, larger volumes aren’t expected to enter the marketplace until early April, he said.
“Barring any weather issues, we should have decent volume going forward every week through the spring,” Browder said in late February.
In southwest Florida, the cold limited production but the crop improved as spring approached, said Chris Tordonato, sales manager of Immokalee-based Florida Specialties Inc.
Some spring beans weren’t in the ground when the freezes struck and Florida Specialties planned to begin harvest in early March.
“The spring plantings are fine and we are expecting normal spring production,” Tordonato said in late February.
Tordonato characterized winter quality as good and said markets were favorable.
In late February, the USDA reported bushel cartons/crates of handpicked round green beans from central and South Florida selling for $16.35 with machine-picked selling for $12.35-12.85.
Last year in late February, the handpicked sold for $20-22.85 with machine-picked at $19-22.85.
South Florida bean production normally finishes in mid-May as Georgia’s deal begins.