WIMAUMA, Fla. — Because of smaller volumes in other growing regions and unfavorable Florida growing conditions, buyers should expect adequate supplies of Florida-grown cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day holiday promotions.
Though south and central Florida’s cabbage escaped major damage from the freezing weather that struck all growing regions in early and mid-January, grower-shippers say cloudy and colder-than-normal weather that has hit growing regions since has challenged plant growth.
The cabbage hasn’t received enough heat units. Instead of receiving seven days worth of heat units to constitute seven days of plant growth, Tony Piedimonte, co-owner of Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, said the plants have received few days of heat.
Add lower volumes from other growing regions such as Texas — where winter production has made for only 70% of a normal crop for St. Patty’s Day shipments.
“As you compound this, it will make that big block of St. Patty’s Day cabbage,” Piedimonte said in mid-February. “You have storage supplies from Canada and in New York that are down due to a weaker harvest in those areas and have had cooler and wetter weather in their growing seasons. This St. Patty’s Day business will be very interesting. There is a lot of immature and lightweight cabbage around.”
While Florida growers generally ship cabbage from December through early May, the biggest push of the year usually begins in early March when shippers begin sending supplies to retail customers for St. Patty’s Day promotions.
Piedimonte called cabbage weight outstanding and described color as beautiful. Those factors should produce highly durable and sweet heads, he said.
Piedimonte said he expects prices to remain strong going into the holiday.
Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., said national supplies have begun to recover from the cold and are increasing.