Growers optimistic for strong cucumber deal

11/05/2010 11:41:12 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

PALMETTO, Fla. — Florida shippers of cucumbers await typical fall and winter seasons.

In central Florida, Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, planned to begin shipments of its pole-grown cucumbers on time on Nov. 1.


Doug Ohlemeier

Kim Malcolm, farm manager of J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, Fla., views some cucumbers in late September. J&J officials say the crop is going well and running on schedule and say buyers should expect normal supplies in early November.


Able to pick the pole-grown variety 10 to 12 times, shipments normally run through December but can vary, depending on weather, said Jeff Williams, president.

Williams said south Georgia’s volume this fall is considerably smaller than previous years, so he said he doesn’t think the region will remain in the deal as long as normal.

He said growers are optimistic that smaller overall Georgia volume could bring a little higher prices for Florida’s deal.

“Hopefully, we will have a window if we can get Georgia out of the way earlier,” he said in late October.

Williams called last year’s market average at best.

He described this year’s quality as strong.

Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc. planned to start south Florida harvesting in early to mid-November.

In mid-October, Adam Lytch, operations manager, called cucumber prices cheap.

He said he expects prices to become firmer as northern areas finish and production becomes limited to Georgia, which he said should finish in mid-November.

Cucumber prices began rising as the season moved along.

In late October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported light harvesting of cucumbers from central Florida with sufficient volume for price reporting expected to hit in late October.

From south Georgia, the USDA reported waxed 1 1/9 bushel cartons medium selling for $18.35-18.85, fair quality $10.35-12.85; cartons of 24s, $7.35-8.85.

That’s higher than in mid-October when the USDA reported $16.35-18.35 for the 1 1/9 bushel cartons medium with fair quality $8.35-10.85; cartons of 24s, $5.35-7.85.

Last fall the USDA in mid-October reported 1 1/9 bushel cartons of waxed medium cucumbers from south Georgia selling for $12-14.85; $8-8.35 for fair quality; cartons of 24s sold for $5-5.35.

While it has some acreage in Palmetto, Immokalee-based Six L’s Packing Co. Inc., a part of the Lipman Family Cos., plans to begin harvesting in early November.

“Cucumbers in the spring here were very tough,” said Gerry Odell, chief operating officer of farming and packing. “It was too cold for too long. That really hurt the crop. Our fall cucumbers last year were okay.”

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.”

In late October, Rayfield said everything remained on schedule and said the fields looked well.

To make for consistent deliveries, Rayfield said J&J times its Florida plantings to begin harvesting as south Georgia production starts playing out in late October and early November.

Rayfield said cold weather caused the spring deal to start later than normal.

Then, production came in all at once, which harmed prices.

J&J’s offshore partners experienced a strong deal because they were able to take advantage of the cold weather in Florida and received good prices, Rayfield said.

At 3,500 acres, Florida accounts for 64% of U.S. fall cucumber production, according to the USDA.



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