Growers await better season with favorable weather and lower acreage

11/05/2010 11:44:43 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

“We are positive and everyone is positive,” Pero said in late October. “Our foundations have been going well. It’s been built and should carry us through as we haven’t had any planting interruptions. The weather has been perfect and we have had good growing conditions.”

Pero said Pero Family Farms began harvesting bell peppers and green beans on Oct. 17.

Pero’s acreage remains similar to last season, he said.

Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing for J&J Produce, Loxahatchee, said it’s time for a better season.

“We had a very good fall last year. It went well,” he said. “We were off to a great start. This year, I think everyone is looking for an exceptional season of high-quality product.”

Rayfield in late October said Florida’s crops have been growing well and that the crops look strong.

He said retailers should expect ample supplies for the Thanksgiving pull and that buyers should expect a small overlap between the ending of south Georgia harvesting and the start of Florida’s production in early November.

Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., said he thinks this will be a different kind of fall season for Florida.

“I just think this year will be unique for certain items like cucumbers and squash as production is down in Florida,” he said. “There will be less acres planted. Specifically in central Florida, where a lot of producers aren’t growing this year. That will cause the markets to be firmer.”

Grower-shippers report favorable early fall quality.

“The conditions of the crops are better than they have been the last couple of years,” said 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.

Florida grows a variety of fresh produce items during the fall and winter, including bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, sweet corn, green beans, cabbage, eggplant, lettuce and tomatoes.

On tomatoes, the Homestead-based DiMare Co. had started shipping light volumes of grape tomatoes from central Florida in early October with steady supplies of grapes and cherries expected to hit by early November.

DiMare planned to begin shipping mature greens in late October and early November with romas following, said Tony DiMare, vice president.

“Overall, our fall growing weather has been good and the crops are in very good condition,” he said in mid-October.

That’s opposite of last year when severe heat harmed fall crops and January freezes destroyed most of the state’s tomato crop.



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