Sunshine State corn volume to start light

11/11/2013 12:00:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Doug OhlemeierWorkers pack sweet corn in April at Hugh H. Branch Inc., in South Bay, Fla. Because heavy rains during plantings kept growers from entering the fields, buyers shouldn’t expect to see Florida bringing high early season volumes of corn and green beans. BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Buyers shouldn’t expect to see Florida bringing high early season volumes of sweet corn.

Torrential rains that struck the Palm Beach County growing region during September plantings kept growers from entering the fields and created skips.

Growers say buyers should expect lighter than normal volume during the season’s opening weeks.

South Bay-based Hugh H. Branch Inc.’s growers plan to start harvesting Nov. 10.

Brett Bergmann, co-owner, said supplies should be 60% to 70% smaller than normal during the weeks leading to the Thanksgiving pull.

“There ought to be some corn for the Thanksgiving marketing period,” Bergmann said in late October. “Hopefully, sometime after Thanksgiving, leading to Christmas, there should be a good supply of sweet corn. We are anticipating decent quality for the fall.”

Georgia also experienced planting skips and Bergmann said the lighter supplies were helping keep prices higher than normal.

In early November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported wirebound crates of 4-4½ dozen from south Georgia selling for $16.95 for yellow and $14.95 for white and bicolor.

Last year in early November, the USDA reported wirebound crates of 4-4½ dozen from south Georgia selling for $ 8.95-10.95 for yellow and bicolor and $10.95 for white.

Typically, south Florida growers begin harvesting in mid-November, as Georgia’s production begins to decline.

“Because of the wetness, Florida should start a little later than normal, probably later in November,” Jon Browder, sales manager of Pioneer Growers Co-op, said in late October. “The crop in the ground looks good. Everything is going well.”

Pioneer’s growers plan to begin harvesting closer to Thanksgiving.

In late October, Browder said Georgia was harvesting light volume and said the corn was grading as fancy but was producing smaller sizings.

He said he expects a smooth transition between the growing regions.

An exception to the deal, the growers who South Bay-based Scotlynn Sweet Pac Growers LLC market for aren’t expecting serious crop losses.

J.D. Poole, partner, said Scotlynn’s growers expect to begin harvesting volume in mid-November.

“Industrywide, the deal may be a little short but we are expecting good supplies and excellent quality,” Poole said in late October. “The early corn crop looks real good. Many growers suffered losses but our’s were able to avoid the rains.”

Jason Bedsole, sales manager of Eastern vegetables and citrus for the Oviedo-based Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., agreed early supplies should be lighter than normal.

“Volumes will get better as we move into December,” he said in late October. “What’s there looks to be good. It’s just that volumes will be up and down on the front part and won’t level out until December.”

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