Despite late start, normal Florida fall harvest expected - The Packer

Despite late start, normal Florida fall harvest expected

11/07/2011 11:31:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Nick Bergstrom (left), chief sales officer with Pero Family Farms, Delray Beach, and Frank Pero, corporate executive vice president, visit bell pepper fields in late September.IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Despite central Florida tomatoes getting a later than normal start, grower-shippers say buyers should expect normal fall Florida crops.

The fall tomato deal began with lighter volume and slightly higher prices after heat and pollination problems produced smaller sizings of Palmetto-Ruskin tomatoes, said Chuck Weisinger, president and chief executive officer of Weis-Buy Farms Inc., Fort Myers.

“There aren’t a lot of tomatoes in Palmetto,” Weisinger said in late October.

He said buyers should expect supplies to increase in late October and early November.

For other vegetables, Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., said he was hoping for a strong season.

“The first plantings look really good,” Lytch said in mid-October.

“And the early product looks really good in Immokalee. It’s as good as our north Florida deal looked last year. It may look a bit better this fall.”

Lytch said L&M usually begins its north Florida harvesting of bell peppers near Branford in late October and it planned to begin its south Florida harvesting near Immokalee in early November.

L&M also grows and ships Florida cucumbers, squash, eggplant, cabbage, hot peppers and broccoli.

Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing for J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, said Georgia experienced a bumper fall crop and said he expects Georgia production to run into early November when Florida begins.

“We are planning to start in south Florida in early November,” he said in mid-October.

“Unless we have a weather event that changes things, our intention is to have a couple of weeks’ overlap with Georgia instead of a gap to ensure supply continuity.”

On sweet corn and green beans, Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, said Palm Beach County growers expect favorable seasons.

“The crops look good,” he said in mid-October.

“It’s just been normal fall weather for us but has been too wet at times where growers couldn’t get into the fields. But that’s nothing out of the ordinary for the fall.”

Biederman said buyers should expect normal transitions from south Georgia production to Florida production.

He said Florida typically begins with lighter volumes as Georgia finishes with smaller volume.

Growers said they’ve heard talk of smaller acreage.

Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., Cheriton, Va., said bell pepper acreage could have declined in central and south Florida.

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