IMMOKALEE, Fla. — After disastrous winter and spring seasons, bell pepper grower-shippers are counting on word of fewer acres to help lift markets and bring better fall and winter deals.
January’s freezes and subsequent cold weather kept the plants from growing.
Though prices remained high, most growers couldn’t capitalize on the market because they didn’t have supply.
When the delayed deal hit the market, growing regions walked on other growing regions and crashed prices to $5-6.
Jim Monteith, sales manager for Pacific Collier Fresh Co., said south Florida growers are looking for a better and more normal year.
“It should be a much different season down here,” he said. “The feedback I’m getting is that acreage is down in Florida. Hopefully, with the acreage being down, we will see some better markets than what we saw last year.”
Though he said he isn’t hearing any concrete numbers, Monteith said he thinks all of the state’s acreage will be lower.
Because 1989 was the last time such a freeze wrecked Florida before 2009-10, Monteith said growers hope it will be another 20 years before south Florida experiences another winter as severe.
Monteith said south Florida bell pepper plants are moving along and look healthy and said harvesting should remain on schedule barring any weather issues.
Central Florida growers begin their harvesting in mid-October with south Florida typically starting in early November.
Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., which grows peppers in north and south Florida, planned to start harvesting in the Branford area west of Gainesville by late October and start its Immokalee area harvesting in early November.
“This fall crop looks really nice,” Adam Lytch, operations manager, said in mid-October. “As far as the stand, it’s one of the most even pepper crops we have had in a while. Everything is nice and even and coming along well.”