Acreage declines could boost winter pepper markets

11/05/2010 11:41:16 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Lytch in mid-October called the pepper market strong.

Prices were strong because heat caused an early end to northern producing areas with a small gap in volume before Georgia started, he said.

In late October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported 1 1/9-bushel cartons of jumbos and extra-larges from south Georgia selling for $10.35-12.85; large, $8.35-9.85; with extra large fair quality $8.35-8.85.

That’s lower than in early October when the USDA reported these prices: $14.35-14.85; large, $12.35-14.85; with extra large fair quality $8.35-10.85.

Last year, the USDA in mid-October reported 1 1/9-bushel cartons of jumbos and extra larges from south Georgia selling for $12.35-12.85; large, $10.35-10.85; fair quality $8.35-8.85.

In central Florida, Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, plans to begin harvesting in early November.

“Things are looking well on this crop,” Jeff Williams, president, said in mid-October.

Gerry Odell, chief operating officer of farming and packing for the Lipman Family Cos., Immokalee, which grows and packs tomatoes and vegetables through Six L’s Packing Co. Inc. and Custom Pak, said warmer south Florida land in Estero and Naples as well as on the East Coast helped some volume of supplies survive last year’s freeze.

“We were fortunate in that we had pepper that got through last year’s freeze,” he said. “We were able to recuperate some of what we lost due to the temperatures. It was cold on the East Coast, but it didn’t freeze.”

J&J Produce, Loxahatchee, also grows some of its pepper on the warmer East Coast soil.

“In spite of the worst freeze in years, we were blessed to have this Palm Beach County land that helped us make a decent crop, and we were able to take care of our customers,” he said. “It (the deal overall) was a dramatic and astronomic loss. This year, we are hoping for better.”

Because of colder temperatures, central Florida normally finishes in late December.

Though south Florida produces throughout the winter, because of planting schedules, volume typically slows in January and February and resumes in March for spring production.

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