HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Escaping damage from cold weather, south Florida avocado and tropicals grower-shippers are preparing for a strong spring season.
In late February, grower-shippers were finishing shipments of avocados. Florida’s season typically begins with small volumes in late May, with volume building in June and producing promotable volumes in early July. The deal typically ends in January with smaller volumes running through early March.
“We’ve had a record-breaking season,” said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales for Brooks Tropicals LLC.
“This has been the largest season since pre-hurricanes Katrina and Wilma days. Quality was fine across the board on all varieties. We had a good season with no major freezes.”
Brindle said with a warm winter, the 2012 season should be as productive as the previous one.
Throughout the year, south Florida supplies large quantities of a variety of tropical items, including mamey sapote, passion fruit, boniato, starfruit, water coconuts, Thai guava and lychee.
“The weather has been gorgeous,” Peter Leifermann, Brooks’ director of sales and fruit procurement, said in late February.
“We’re seeing crop progression and development that leads us to think this will be a bountiful season this spring going into summer Florida tropicals.”
Leifermann said an absence of brutal freezes and almost perfect weather should help production of tropicals such as mamey sapote and passion fruit.
Brooks planned to start harvesting mamey sapote by mid-March. The magana variety, the larger of the two commercial varieties, ships through September with the pantin or key west variety typically beginning production in late June.
On passion fruit, Leifermann said Brooks saw a successful Valentine’s Day peak and expects promotable volume for Mother’s Day.
Growers harvest light spring passion fruit volume before the crop returns in late April with harvesting ending in late June. Passion fruit peaks in early February, in late May and early June and in late September and early October.
Leifermann called passion fruit quality strong.
During the dry spring season, crops such as boniato and water coconuts decline but still produce steady supplies with good availability until returning to promotable levels in June with the commencement of the region’s rainy season, Leifermann said.
Because of an absence of cold weather, spring water coconuts shouldn’t be as tight in volume as in past years.
Available sporadically during the spring, Thai guava and red guava resume production in June, Leifermann said.