Lytch said L&M lost 3% to 4% of its oldest spring plantings, the ones planted in December, to the freeze and experienced some damage on the rest of its crop but has seen recovery.
Six L’s Packing Co. Inc. had some acreage near Estero that went undamaged by the freeze.
“We have a lot of younger pepper that will be fine,” said Gerry Odell, chief operating officer of farming and packing for the Lipman Family Cos., which grows and packs tomatoes and vegetables through Six L’s and Custom Pak.
“We had a lot of pepper acres that were somewhat affected by the cold weather that will return to production faster than the product that was just transplanted.
“The ones in the midst of planting (during the freeze) came through fine. We will have good pepper production sometime in early March.”
Peppers grown in the Devil’s Garden area east of Immokalee sustained heavy damage.
Some growers there were able to cover some of their crops and had varying results, Odell said.
Growers with fields in the traditionally warmer lands on the East Coast saw only minor damage, Odell said.
The unseasonably cold weather that hit central Florida in January and February will likely delay the start of that region’s harvest.
“Things should be delayed a little bit here,” said Gary Wishnatzki, president of Wishnatzki Farms, Plant City. “People were concerned that there could be quite a bit of overlap with south Florida this year as south Florida will come in a little later this season.”
Wishnatzki said he expects central Florida to begin pickings in early May, a little later than the deal’s normal mid- to late April start.
Wishnatzki’s growers were wrapping up plantings in mid-February.
In south Florida, Six L’s plans to ship peppers through early May.