Growers call season ideal - The Packer

Growers call season ideal

11/02/2009 01:20:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

PALMETTO, Fla. — Shippers warn of smaller early fall tomato shipments and possible late November supply gaps on sweet corn for this year’s Florida fall vegetable season.

Dogged by lower-than-normal prices on many items, including green beans, bell pepper, squash and tomatoes, growers hope for higher prices and look forward to a productive fall heading into the holiday season.

Doug Ohlemeier

Joe LoBianco (left), district farm manager for Pero Vegetable Co. LLC, Delray Beach, Fla., and Scott Seddon, brand manager, inspect bell peppers in early October west of Pero’s Palm Beach County operations. Seddon says the early fall growing season has been ideal for the southern vegetables.

The season’s early tomato crop could see up to 40% lighter volume after extreme high temperatures harmed first plantings of north and central Florida tomatoes.

Possible problems

Jon Esformes, chief marketing officer at Pacific Tomato Growers Ltd., in mid-October said he doesn’t foresee any Quincy or Palmetto-Ruskin volume after Nov. 20.

“The quality of the tomatoes on the vine look fine,” he said. “They’re just few and far between now.”

South Florida could send fewer crates of sweet corn to the market near Thanksgiving after wet conditions during planting caused some planting skips.

Jason Bedsole, sales manager of eastern vegetables and citrus for Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., said the Belle Glade region in general should experience some issues due to lost days of planting after the rains.

Despite the possible lessening of late November volume, Bedsole in mid-October said he expects a favorable crop.

“For us, the crop looks very good,” he said. “It looks like we should have a good and strong start to go through the holiday period with good volumes of corn.”

Hope for better year

Growers hope this year proves to be better than last year’s fall, winter and spring deals that saw low prices on some vegetables.

After a series of January and February freezes damaged plantings, some growers hurriedly replanted.

The rush to replanting pushed everyone back and created an oversupply that depressed prices, growers said.

“I think everyone in Florida would tell you that last spring was one of the worst deals in a long time,” said Dean Wiers, sales manager of Willard, Ohio-based Wiers Farm Inc., which has Florida production through Wiers-Turner Farms LLC. “It was a rough spring for everyone.”

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