IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Coming off low early fall prices, the bell pepper market is increasing slightly as Florida grower-shippers start fall pickings.
Higher-than-normal temperatures are also said to accelerate Florida harvesting, growers reported.
Central Florida grower-shippers planned to begin pickings in mid- to late October.
Dean Wiers, sales manager of Willard, Ohio-based Wiers Farm Inc., which has Florida production through Wiers-Turner Farms LLC, Palmetto, characterized the crop as satisfactory.
“The crop looks good but it’s a little uneven due to some earlier rains, but the crop is coming back nicely,” he said in mid-October. “We didn’t lose anything completely, but the area stands a little uneven because of the heavy rains.”
Wiers said he didn’t expect the rains to cause any quality problems.
Wiers-Turner began shipments Oct. 19.
Hot growing season
After higher-than-normal October temperatures, south Florida production started a week earlier than normal in late October, said Jim Monteith, sales manager for Pacific Collier Fresh Co.
“Everything has been going very well,” he said in mid-October. “The growing season is moving along down here in Immokalee as planned, but we are seeing some extreme hot temperatures as of late and I look for squash and bell pepper possibly starting a week earlier due to the hot conditions.”
Early fall pepper prices this season were low, and sold for around $8 for jumbos, similar to last spring, Monteith said.
In late October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported 1 1/9 bushel cartons of jumbos and extra-larges from south Georgia selling for $16.35-16.85; large, $14.35-14.85; fair quality $12.35-12.85
Those prices are up from earlier in the month when jumbos and extra large sold for $10.35-10.85, with fair quality at $8.35-8.85 and larges selling for $9.35-10.85.
By way of comparison, last season in mid-October, 1 1/9 bushel cartons jumbo from south Georgia sold for $14-14.85; extra-large, $12-12.85; large, $10-12.85; fair quality $10-10.85, according to the USDA.