IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Grower-shippers expect this spring’s cucumber deal to bring adequate supplies and strong demand.
Bowing out for the winter when offshore supplies fill the void, cucumbers generally start harvesting in mid- to late March in south Florida and late March and early April in central Florida.
The ending of the Honduran deal and the transition to Florida’s typically sees a small overlap of about a week.
Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., said Honduras usually produces many off-grade cucumbers as south Florida ramps up its No. 1s and supers.
Lytch said he expects Honduras to finish in mid-March as Florida increases harvesting, which he said generally takes one week to hit volume.
“They look pretty good,” Lytch said in late February. “They got set back by a couple of cool nights and cool windy days, which kind of slowed them but all in all, they look great for this time of the year.”
L&M plans to begin harvesting March 5-10.
Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., Cheriton, Va., said the early December transition from Florida to the offshore deal went smoothly and Florida was finishing while Honduras started volume.
Cullen said growers enjoyed a strong season last fall, and he called prices decent.
Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing for J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, said J&J began Florida harvesting in late February, providing several weeks of overlap with its
Honduras product. By late March and early April, Florida should produce enough cucumbers that imports no longer make sense, he said.
“We had a good fall crop here in spite of generally cheaper markets,” Rayfield said. “We had high yields and excellent quality.”
Southern Corporate Packers Inc. plans to begin its harvesting on time in mid-March, said Brian Arrigo, president.
“They look well,” he said in late February. “We should have a good crop with them. With the warm weather we’re having, they’re coming on really well.”
For central Florida, Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, plans to begin its harvesting April 1, a little earlier than normal, said Jeff Williams, president.
Williams said Hearne wants to hit the market during the short gap that hits as Honduras finishes.
Hearne increased its cucumber production 20% this season. All of its cucumbers are pole-grown.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 1/9-bushel cartons medium from Central America in late February sold for $10 with fair quality at $7.50-8 and cartons of 24s going for $5.
Last year in late February, the USDA reported 1 1/9-bushel cartons medium from Central America and the Caribbean Basin selling for $32-32.95 with cartons of 24s going for $12-12.85.