Low fall squash prices at start of Florida deal

11/03/2009 03:50:42 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Though prices had started strengthening, lower-than-normal fall prices marked the opening of Florida’s squash deal.

Buyers were able to buy boxes of green and yellow fancies for $4-5 in late September.

Central Florida grower-shippers began shipments in late October.

Mike Shier, sales manager for the vegetable department of Six L’s Packing Co. Inc., said the
squash market during most of the summer, most of September and early October was abnormally low.

“It has been so depressed that a lot of guys have run through their early fields without improved prices,” he said in mid-October. “Recent fall weather in the Carolinas and Georgia will eliminate some acreage, and demand for squash should increase coming into November.”

That increase, which should boost prices, follows less volume and sellers from northern producing areas, which include south Georgia, the Carolinas, and smaller areas in Mississippi and Alabama.

Six L’s expects to begin its south Florida pickings in early November, Shier said.

Increasing prices

Fall squash prices had started increasing.

In late October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 1/2 and 5/9 bushel cartons of small zucchini from south Georgia sold for $12.35-14.85 with medium at $10.35-12.85; small yellow straightneck, $10.35-10.85, medium, $8.35-8.85; 3/4 bushel cartons of yellow crooknecks, small, $14.35-14.85, medium, $8.35-9.85.

In early October, those same sizes sold for $6.35-8.85 and $3.35-4.85 for zucchini; $6.35-6.85 and $4.35-4.85 for yellow straightneck; and $8.35-10.85 and $5.35-6.85 for yellow crooknecks.

This season’s prices are similar to a little higher than last fall when the USDA in mid-October reported 1/2 and 5/9 bushel cartons of zucchini small selling for $6-6.35; medium, $4-4.35; yellow straightneck small, $6-6.35; medium, $4-4.35; 3/4 bushel cartons yellow crookneck, small, $8-10.35, medium, $6-7.35.

Tommy Torbert Jr., president of Five Bros. Produce Inc., Homestead, said prices in mid-October had increased to $8 for small zucchini and $10 for yellow crooknecks.

“Production is down a little, so there’s higher demand,” he said. “Production last week kind of fell off toward the end of the week.”

Low prices, less pollination, plus the ending of northern deals with business being sent to Georgia helped increase prices, Torbert said.

Georgia volume

Torbert characterized the Georgia deal as having high quality.

He said quality has been good though prices have been low.  

Torbert said he hopes prices will rebound toward the end of Georgia’s production, which usually comes in mid-November or after the first freeze.


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