Green bean deals could open to low demand

11/02/2009 04:00:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Higher production, weak demand and low prices are hurting the fall Florida green bean deal.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Florida growers for the 2009 fall harvest planted 9,200 acres, up 8% from 8,500 acres harvested during the fall of 2008, but still down about 16% from the 11,000 acres harvested during the fall of 2007.

Doug Ohlemeier

Jeff Stepanovich, a salesman for Florida Specialties Inc., Immokalee, Fla., inspects some newly planted green beans in late September. Growers characterized the fall beans deal as having higher production, weak demand and low prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Florida growers increased their fall plantings this season. Florida Specialties plans to begin picking its south Florida beans in mid-November.

Georgia growers started pickings in mid-October, and south Florida growers usually begin production in mid-November to meet Thanksgiving demand.

Five Bros. Produce Inc., Homestead, plans to start its pickings Nov. 1, about 10 days earlier than normal.

Tommy Torbert Jr., president, said the early pickings weren’t due to weather during planting but follow the grower-shipper planting its beans 10 days earlier than normal in mid-September.

Torbert said the early November harvesting should bring promotable volume for the Thanksgiving push.

“The beans look good,” he said in mid-October. “Everything is pretty.”

Torbert said rain problems in Tennessee haven’t really affected bean prices.

High fall bean volume

In mid-October, Torbert said there seemed to be plenty of beans in Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.

Though Tennessee growers experienced some rain-related losses, Torbert said they were still harvesting some good quality beans.

Five Bros. began its Georgia pickings from Rebecca, Ga., on time Oct. 5.

It should finish its Georgia harvest on Nov. 10.

Though the USDA on Oct. 6 reported south Georgia growers receiving $14.85-15.85 for bushel cartons/crates of machine-picked round green beans, with handpicked selling for $17-18, Gary Stafford, salesman and green bean manager for Pahokee-based Hugh H. Branch Inc., said the market didn’t finish the week of Oct. 5 at that price.

In mid-October, Stafford said machine-picked beans were selling in the $10 range.

The USDA in late October reported $18.85-19 from south Georgia for bushel cartons/crates of machine-picked round green beans, with handpicked selling for $21.

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