“I don’t think I’ve ever sold fruit for $6 in January,” he said.
Fortunately for growers, the drop was short-lived.
“It corrected itself in a hurry,” he said.
“The market has been depressed here for the last three weeks because of the production coming out of Florida and Mexico,” Lowthorp said Feb. 7.
Valentine’s Day production also was down in Oxnard for Watsonville, Calif.-based Dole Berry Co. LLC, said Vincent Ferrante, director of farming and harvesting, West.
But he was optimistic for the post-Valentine’s Day period.
“We’re anticipating, following Valentine’s Day, the fruit to begin to come back in,” he said.
“We’re ahead of production” for the season overall, he said.
Grower-shippers seemed optimistic for spring.
“The fields are very healthy, and I think you’ll have a good push of bloom in early March,” said Matt Kawamura, partner in Orange County Produce, Irvine.
The fruit that is available looks good, growers said.
“Following the little bit of frost and rain that we’ve had, this week the fruit has started to look very, very good,” Ferrante said Feb. 7.
“Quality (of the berries) has been fantastic,” Lowthorp said. “My problem is, we’re just not getting enough of them.”
Like other grower-shippers, Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC experienced slow plant growth before Valentine’s Day and “tighter supply than we would like for this time of year,” said Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing.
However, Verloop remained optimistic about the coming weeks.
If current weather conditions hold, the plants should experience “a good, strong flush of leaves and bloom,” he said.
“We’re going to be looking at some really good opportunities for late March and April.”
He expected a strong season overall.