Florida avocado growers expect higher volume

05/27/2011 10:19:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — After successive years of shorter than normal crops, Florida avocado growers expect the new season to bring regular volume.

The 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons saw crops of 914 million bushels and 855 million bushels, respectively, less than the typical season production of nearly 1 million bushels.

Because of extreme January and February cold, the 2010-11 season saw smaller production and shipments ending earlier than normal, growers said. The cold temperatures cut yields and delayed volume, similar to what occurred with other Florida crops such as tomatoes. That scenario produced higher prices and fewer retail promotions.

Conversely, grower-shipper estimates predict this season’s crop will be 20% bigger than last year’s, said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals Inc. He added that 2011-12 should bring a 1.2 million bushel harvest.

“All of the customers we have talked with are very excited about the promotional opportunities that will be available this year if we have a normal crop,” Brindle said in mid-May. “They just can’t wait for the season to get started.”

Although growers usually start harvesting small quantities in late May, regular harvesting typically begins in early to mid-June with bigger commercial retail-promotable volumes commencing in late June.

A large July crop should make for strong promotions, Brindle said. Retail customers plan to promote Florida avocados throughout July and August, the months that typically see the largest season volumes, he said.

With a larger crop, growers and retailers should look for more month-long promotions. Brindle said 2007-08 was the last year the industry had enough volume to support such volumes.

Brooks plans to ship around 500,000 bushels this season, up from last season’s 410,000 bushels.

Princeton-based New Limeco LLC expects to increase its volume from 180,000 bushels last season to 250,000 bushels this season, said Eddie Caram, general manager.

The crop has set well, Caram said, and he expects it to produce nice fruit.

“The season looks great,” he said in mid-May. “It looks like we will have a nice crop that’s 30% more than last season. There is a lot of fruit. Everything has worked out very well for avocados so far this year.”

Aside from abnormal December cold, Caram said, this year’s growing season brought favorable conditions to the avocado groves with little wind. The flowers have formed well and Caram is eyeing a more typical season.


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