Florida fall produce- Business updates

Duda adds Asian vegetable product line
Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo, Fla.-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., is introducing a line of Asian vegetables.

The grower-shipper is growing bok choy, baby bok choy, napa and Chinese cabbage.

The products are new to its south Florida growing operations in Belle Glade, Fla., said Jason Bedsole, sales manager of Eastern vegetables and citrus.

He said the items, which ship early December through late April, make for good mixer items for retail customers.

Duda also has increased slightly its parsley and cilantro acreage.

Citing proprietary issues, Bedsole declined to state Duda’s acreage.

Florida Specialties boosts pepper acreage
Florida Specialties Inc., Immokalee, Fla., has expanded its bell pepper production.

The grower-shipper boosted acreage from 200 acres last season to this year’s 300 acres, said Chris Tordonato, sales manager.

“Our customers are demanding more pepper from us,” he said. “We want to be able to offer different packages. We are looking to branch into new customer bases.”

With green beans its primary item, Florida Specialties also grows and ships eggplant and this spring entered the fresh-cut green bean category.

Hearne adds tomato clamshell equipment

Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, Fla., has installed new clamshell-filling machinery for packing grape and cherry tomatoes.

The equipment replaces older machinery, said Jeff Williams, president.

Hearne also reconfigured its grape packing line to make it more efficient, he said.

The grower-shipper completed the improvements in early October.

“We will be able to pack more volume and hopefully eliminate another 10 or 12 people off the line,” Williams said.

Hearne grows grapes, romas and cherry tomatoes on its own acreage.

He said the company this season increased its acreage by up to 15%.

C&D markets for Turner’s Utopia Farms

C&D Fruit & Vegetable Co. Inc., Bradenton, Fla., has begun selling vegetables grown by central Florida grower Brian Turner.

Turner, who formerly sold bell peppers, cucumbers and squash through the now-dissolved partnership of Palmetto, Fla.-based Wiers-Turner Farms LLC, made the change over the summer, Turner said.

That partnership involved Wiers Farm Inc., Willard, Ohio.

Turner’s Utopia Farms growing operation also grows tomatoes, which he markets through Taylor & Fulton Packing LLC, Palmetto.

Turner remains a partner with Ed Angrisani and Jim Grainger in that tomato growing and packing operation.

Six L’s resumes growing specialty peppers
Six L’s Packing Co. Inc., the Immokalee, Fla.-based subsidiary of the Lipman Family Cos., has returned to growing specialty peppers.

Though the grower-shipper had grown some hot peppers in the past, it left the deal last year because it wasn’t was a moneymaking deal, said Gerry Odell, chief operating officer of farming and packing.

Eliminating some of the minor pepper acreage, Six L’s has returned to its normal 100 acres of specialty peppers, which include jalapeños, cubanelles and Hungarian wax pepper.

“We felt the acreage had gone down and some that were growing it had stopped,” Odell said. “It’s a mixer for our salesman. We thought we’d would have another go at it.”

By Eastern Editor Doug Ohlemeier