Growers plan to harvest earlier spring volumes of bell peppers from Immokalee.
“Buyers should expect real good quality with the spring crop coming up with the good weather we have had out of Immokalee and Bradenton,” Jim Monteith, Bradenton-based head of U.S. and Canadian sales for Utopia-Can-Am Pepper Co. LP, Madison, Wis., said in late February.
This spring’s corn may start earlier than normal, said Brett Bergmann, co-owner of Hugh H. Branch Inc., Pahokee.
“We will get going in March,” he said in late February.
“Yields won’t be big at the start because it’s been dry, but growing conditions have been well. The volume deal may be in early April this year instead of mid-May.”
Grower-shippers expect Immokalee and central Florida tomato volumes to start about a week ahead of normal, said Tony DiMare, vice president of Homestead-based DiMare Co.
“It doesn’t matter what the commodity is,” he said in late February.
“The weather has been warm and has been pushing production up.”
Warmer-than-average winter conditions also have accelerated watermelon development.
Brian Arrigo, president of Southern Corporate Packers Inc., said growers might start harvesting in late March, about two weeks ahead of normal.
He said growers are concerned the earlier deal may miss the Memorial Day push.
“We are hoping for a real good season and should have a really good crop,” he said.
“We are hoping for favorable weather up north to help us move a lot of fruit this year.”
The strawberry deal is producing quality berries and should finish with an earlier than normal season peak in early to mid-March, said Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer of Wish Farms, Plant City.
“So far, production has been phenomenal,” he said in late February. “We have good-looking fruit.”
Meanwhile, growers say a mid-February freeze could cut the state’s blueberry harvest by 20%, particularly in the state’s northern growing regions.
Citrus also looks good.
“It’s been a strong citrus season overall in terms of quality and volume,” Jason Bedsole, sales manager of Eastern vegetables and citrus for Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., said in late February.
“The fruit has good appearance and quality.”