He said prices were high in early January, then cooled off.
“The markets (earlier) really jacked up and caused some higher retail prices that slowed movement,” he said.
The system that brought colder-than-normal temperatures to the southeastern U.S. even affected Central America growing regions, where overnight temperatures hit the 40s.
The cold didn’t hurt cucumber plants but slowed production, Lytch said.
In addition, rain in Mexican growing regions slowed volume.
L&M expects to begin its cucumber pickings in mid-March.
Market on fire
Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing for J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, called the market during last winter and spring high.
“The market was on fire last year,” he said. “It was an extended high market.”
Rayfield said the Florida growers who tried to plant winter cucumbers to take advantage of that high winter market got hurt by the freeze.
During the transition period between offshore production and Florida’s spring start, Rayfield said the market usually pays a premium because retailers want to feature product being harvested from the new domestic producing regions.
Once production becomes heavy, though, prices normally decline, he said.
Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, began plantings of its pole-grown cucumbers in mid- to late February.
Pickings are scheduled to start in late March.
“Cucumbers were good for us last year,” said Tony Piedimonte, co-owner. “We had good volumes and good quality as well as decent prices.”
Piedimonte said prices are traditionally strong when Florida begins production.
Hearne plans to end its pickings in the middle of May.
Wishnatzki Farms, Plant City, markets pickling cukes for the fresh market.
Wishnatzki’s grower normally begins production in mid-to late March.
Because of the colder-than-normal January and February temperatures, this season’s central Florida production won’t likely start until early April, said Gary Wishnatzki, president.
“We are not in the same situation as most sales companies that have to sell what comes in,” he said. “We bring in only what we sell and the grower is always picking the new fields for the fresh market.”