Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, began planting Oct. 4 and expects to start with a small amount of berries around Thanksgiving. The company is planning for larger production to begin movement Dec. 1.
Jeff Williams, president, called last season OK, one that produced many berries in December.
“On the earlier berries, the fruit was good,” he said. “Toward the tail end, it got real ugly because there was lot of volume, but fortunately, we were done by then.”
Florida’s winter deal normally hits promotable volume in January and typically ends in late March and early April.
Florida’s blueberry deal usually starts in late March and runs through May.
Unfavorable cold weather wrecked the blueberry deal this past season, delaying volumes a week or more until May when Georgia and North Carolina enter the deal.
While SunnyRidge normally ships 80% of its fruit before May, this past season it shipped less than 8% of its fruit in April.
“It all just fell into the May window, which traditionally doesn’t have the prices April has,” he said. “I can’t imagine Mother Nature playing that game with us again. Let’s plan more of a statistically proven window than last season was.”
Wishnatzki said the season started a week later than normal, and Georgia production coming in on top of Florida pushed prices lower.
“Everything (all produce) was affected price-wise by the freeze,” he said. “When you miss your window and are later, you will get lower prices. Blueberry averages were a little lower this past year because of the lateness.”