Doug OhlemeierWorkers pack sweet corn for tray packs in April for Pioneer Growers Co-op. Florida grower-shippers say a later starting Georgia deal may keep volumes lighter than usual and prices a little higher.BELLE GLADE, Fla. — A slow Georgia start may keep sweet corn volumes lighter than usual and prices a little higher than average.
That’s what Florida corn grower-shippers say could happen as they prepare to begin production in early to mid- November.
Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, said Georgia prices remained higher because rainy and cool weather kept growers from early harvesting.
Though wet weather disrupted south Florida growers from entering some fields during planting, Biederman said the crop otherwise looks good and that growers expect a normal fall season.
Fall production, centered south of Lake Okeechobee, generally starts in early November with volume building until Thanksgiving.
“We hope to hit the Thanksgiving window,” Biederman said in mid-October.
“If Mother Nature cooperates, we will have corn for Thanksgiving.”
Though getting a later than normal start, Georgia’s deal is producing high quality corn, said Brett Bergmann, co-owner of Hugh H. Branch Inc., Pahokee.
“Movement has been good and prices have been decent,” Bergmann said Oct. 25.
“We just hope there isn’t an early freeze in Georgia. If not, it should make for a smooth transition because Georgia will probably go a little later than normal because of its later start. It should be a smooth transition to Belle Glade barring any inclement weather in the Bainbridge and Camilla area.”
Bergmann said Florida acreage remains consistent with last fall and said plantings should be on time.
Georgia usually finishes harvesting Nov. 5-10 with Belle Glade commencing Nov. 16-20, he said.
In mid-October, Biederman said corn from south Georgia in early October sold for $14-16 for wirebound crates of 4-4½ dozen.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wirebound crates of 4-4½ dozen from Georgia in late October sold for $14 for yellow and bicolor and $14.95-15.95 for white.
Last season, the USDA reported wirebound crates of 4-4½ dozen from south Georgia in mid-October selling for $14.95 for yellow and $12.95 for white and bicolor.
Biederman said growers hope demand exceeds last spring, when unfavorable Northeastern weather discouraged shoppers from purchasing corn in April, during the heart of south Florida’s spring deal.
The weather improved and demand increased in May, he said.
Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., expanded its Homestead acreage.
Though he declined to state acreage or volume, Jason Bedsole, sales manager of Eastern vegetables and citrus, said Duda added a grower partner, S&L Beans, Homestead, to its corn packing and marketing.
Bedsole said customer demand prompted Duda to increase its winter presence in Homestead.
“It (Homestead) is a very important part of the winter program,” Bedsole said.
“You have to have product down there.”
Duda plans to start its Belle Glade production by mid-November and start its Homestead harvesting in late December and early January.
In mid-October, Bedsole said Belle Glade production looked strong and said he expects a smooth transition from south Georgia production to Florida’s crop.
Belle Glade area growers produce steady volume through late December and early January before production shifts to Homestead.
Though Belle Glade’s winter supplies decline considerably, the region still produces corn as Homestead’s warmer temperatures dominate production.
In the spring, light volumes begin in Belle Glade in late March with promotable volumes usually returning in mid-April with production running through Memorial Day, before the deal returns to Georgia.