Hot weather could start Florida peppers early - The Packer

Hot weather could start Florida peppers early

11/03/2009 03:50:37 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Market firming

Less fall volume coming from northern growing areas was causing the pepper market to begin firming up, said Greg Cardamone, general manager of eastern vegetables for L&M Cos., Raleigh, N.C., which grows and ships from Moultrie, Ga., and south Florida.

Less quantity helps pick the markets up, he said.

L&M plans to pack its Immokalee pepper through mid-April before working its way back up to central Florida and to south Florida in May.

Mike Shier, sales manager for the vegetable department of Six L’s Packing Co. Inc., Immokalee, said a slow economy, weak demand and high early fall production in northern growing areas have kept prices lower than normal.

“The market has been somewhat depressed for most of the summer,” he said. “We look for the market to firm up a little going into the first week of November.  We are looking for moderate demand with the way the economy is.”

Shier said the Thanksgiving pull usually makes for good demand, but then demand can often fall apart after the holiday push.

Six L’s plans to start its bell pickings on time in early November.

Central Florida volume

Gary Wishnatzki, president of Wishnatzki Farms, Plant City, said the Florida market normally improves when volume shifts from south Georgia to the Sunshine State.

He said he doesn’t expect to see any major bumps in price, however, once Georgia finishes.

“So far, the crop looks very good,” Wishnatzki said in mid-October. “There hasn’t been anything to hurt it. We believe we are in good shape.”

Central Florida production normally runs through Christmas.

Pacific Collier’s Monteith said rainfall has been adequate, and the past drought has eased with rainfall conditions returning to normal for the Immokalee growing region.

Monteith said central Florida and south Florida usually sees an overlap in production.

The two growing regions, he said, experienced a short overlap when production this spring shifted to the Plant City and Palmetto-Ruskin region.

The overlap, which normally depresses prices, wasn’t large, and south Florida was nearly completed with its pepper harvesting as areas to the north got harvesting underway.

According to the USDA, Florida’s pepper acreage planted for fall harvest declined 3% to 7,300 acres compared to 7,500 acres for the fall of 2008.

Harvested acreage during the fall of 2007 was at 7,400 acres.

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