IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Buyers should expect strong volumes of cucumbers from Florida during the spring.
South Florida’s cucumber crop normally ends in late December and bows out of production during the winter months when offshore production ships.
Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing for J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, Fla., with a pack of cucumbers in early February. Buyers should expect strong volumes of Florida spring cucumbers.
That gives the first U.S.-producing region a window that starts in mid-March before other Florida growing regions begin volume in mid- to late April and early May.
“There should be plenty of cucumbers for April,” 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 Packing Co. Inc. and Custom Pak.
Early spring markets
Odell said the cucumber market normally starts out strong and prices often decline quickly.
Shippers who have cucumbers when the Honduran and Mexican deals stop normally experience high markets for a short period of time, he said.
As more Florida growing regions begin production, the added acreage puts a lot of downward pressure on the cucumbers, and prices normally fall during the latter part of April, Odell said.
After freezing weather damages tomatoes, growers looking for an alternative crop to utilize the resources they put into the tomato crop will often plant cucumbers on the stakes above the plastic mulch.
Odell said Six L’s transplanted its cucumbers in mid-January after the freeze.
Spring volume normally begins in mid-March.
The south Florida growers who grow for Southern Corporate Packers Inc. finished spring plantings by Jan. 10.
As the offshore deal plays out while south Florida’s deal begins, prices normally start at fairly high levels until heavy volumes build, said Brian Arrigo, Southern Corporate Packers’ president.
Arrigo said south Florida experienced strong markets last spring until heavy rains inundated the region in mid-May.
The rain caused a lot of disease problems that caused fruit to break down in transit, giving retailers troubles with arrivals, he said.
Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., said the cucumber market began picking up in mid-February.