Tomato growers hope to rebound after rough 2009-10 season - The Packer

Tomato growers hope to rebound after rough 2009-10 season

11/05/2010 11:40:21 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

DiMare and Gerry Odell, chief operating officer of farming and packing for the Lipman Family Cos., Immokalee, which grows and packs tomatoes and vegetables through Six L’s Packing Co. Inc. and Custom Pak, characterized early fall prices as fair with demand sluggish.

Odell said California growers experienced a favorable market for a couple of weeks in late summer and early September, but prices backed off.

He said buyers should expect a strong Florida crop.

“We should have a pretty clean and good crop,” Odell said in mid-October. “There isn’t much virus this year and it should be a decent crop.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in late October hadn’t started reporting Florida mature green prices, but Esformes in mid-October called movement decent and said central California this season produced an excellent crop.

In late October , the USDA reported 25-pound cartons loose mature greens from California’s central district selling for $5.95-6.95 for extra large, large and mediums.

Last year in mid-October, the USDA reported these prices for 25-pound cartons loose mature-greens from central California: extra-large $15.95, large $13.95, medium $11.95.

Because of insufficient volume, the USDA in late October wasn’t reporting prices for mature greens, romas, grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes from the Quincy or Palmetto-Ruskin growing regions.

Six L’s, which has production in Palmetto, LaBelle, Immokalee, Naples and on the East Coast near Loxahatchee, started its central Florida rounds in mid-October.

Odell said he expected south Florida growers that don’t have central Florida deals to begin Immokalee areas harvesting in early November.

South Florida and Immokalee normally begin shipments in late November.

Odell said he expects this season to see some overlap between California and central Florida production.

As central California normally ends in early November, the coastal vine-ripe deal should have enough tomatoes to run through November, he said.

Because of the large number of tropical storms, Odell said northern and central Mexican growing areas received more rain than normal, which harmed crop quality. He said buyers shouldn’t expect as uniform quality for Texas crossings.

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