“Early product was a little rough because of the heat, as it’s been so warm here,” he said in mid-October. “But it looks like it has made it through. We lost some of the first crop and had to replant. The field temperatures in the production region got over 100 degrees in the bed. The heat just tears them up.”
Williams said he recently visited the fields and said everything looks well, despite the unseasonably warm temperatures.
Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, said north Florida growing problems helped south Florida growers.
“Cabbage had a good year in the markets,” he said. “The markets were fair to the farmer. Hopefully, we will have that kind of year again.”
Biederman said prices got as high as $18-19 around St. Patrick’s Day.
Pioneer plans to begin shipments of its Wilson Farm cabbage grown in Homestead Jan. 1.
In north Florida, Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc. planned to start its harvesting in Palatka in mid-December.
Adam Lytch, operations manager, called last season disappointing as cold weather kept yields low, causing growers to miss their normal St. Patrick’s Day window.
When production resumed in May and June, an oversupply crashed prices, he said.
“Cabbage is one of those deals where the market can get high and slow demand,” Lytch said. “It’s one of those things where we are always looking to put together promotions and contract pricing to get more volumes.”
South Florida’s cabbage deal usually runs through May while the Palatka deal normally ends in mid-April.
With its own and other growers’ acreage, Hearne grows on around 700 acres during its Florida winter and spring deals.
It expects to ship 400,000 50-pound cartons, similar to last year’s volume, Williams said.