Warm weather starts early cucumber harvesting

11/03/2009 03:47:04 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

PALMETTO, Fla. — Hotter than normal weather had central Florida picking its fall cucumbers much earlier than normal.

The harvesting came as an oversupply of supers from the Northeast to south Georgia caused prices to fall, shippers said.

Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, began its pickings in early October, about 10 days ahead of normal.

Jeff Williams, president, said the grower-shipper of pole-grown cucumbers was gaining volume.

“We started cucumbers a little out of our window,” he said in mid-October. “It’s a lot earlier than we would like it to be. The weather has been so hot that we’re really starting to get some decent volume. When you’re in the 90s during the days when you’re supposed to be in the 80s, and you have warm nighttime temperatures, they grow all night.”

Doug Ohlemeier

Brian Turner, partner with Wiers-Turner Farms LLC, Palmetto, Fla., (left), and farm managers Kenny Foy and Skeeter Bethea, view some central Florida pole-grown cucumbers in late September. Hotter than normal weather in September and early October had central Florida picking its fall cucumbers a little earlier than normal. The harvesting started as an oversupply of supers from the Northeast to south Georgia caused prices to fall, shippers say. Turner describes quality as high and says central Florida should pick until mid- to late December.

Hearne plans to ship more cucumbers this season.

The company nearly doubled its acreage from above 100 acres last fall to 200 acres this season, Williams said.

Williams attributes the increase to relocation of its growing region from near Myakka City to fields near Parrish.

The company took over a farm that had many tomato stakes erected, he said.

Central Florida’s cucumber deal normally starts in mid-October.

Steady market

Mike Shier, sales manager for the vegetable department of Six L’s Packing Co. Inc., Immokalee, characterized the cucumber market in mid-October as steady.

He said cucumbers called for decent prices during the first couple of weeks of September, but have been moderate since.

Shier quoted $10 for super selects in early and mid-October.

“Going into the first week of October, things kind of fell apart,” he said.

Shier attributed the collapse to overproduction in northern producing areas.

After experiencing a small weather-related skip, Michigan was late in packings combined with New Jersey and North Carolinas fall pickings, he said.

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