Other Florida-grown vegetables largely survive freeze damage

03/09/2010 08:23:32 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

South Florida normally picks January through late March.

Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., said north Florida pickings have brought excellent quality that should bring promotable volume.

Though heavy rains in early February washed out rows and destroyed some younger plantings, L&M was able to replant. Lytch said he doesn’t expect any type of gap going into April.

Lytch in mid-February characterized the broccoli market as abnormally low because of earlier overproduction.

He quoted California product selling for $5-6 to lower open to consignment.

Lytch, however, said he hopes Florida’s closer proximity to eastern markets should provide a freight advantage.

Branch entered the broccoli deal this winter.

One of Branch’s growers, R.C. Hatton Farms, Pahokee, saw the possibilities of growing the vegetable and began production, Shiver said.

“Quality has been excellent,” Shiver said in early February. “It has had a good customer reception. We are exploring where we can go with it because it seems to be doing well now.”

Branch plans to ship broccoli from south Florida through the end of March.

Hot peppers
Florida also grows respectable amounts of variety or hot peppers.

Grower-shippers say the freeze caused damage to that crop as well.

Emilio Mirzakhani, general manager of Homestead Pole Bean Cooperative Inc., said the freeze burned most of the hot peppers such as jalapenos and cubanelles and caused a gap from January into early February, but that some survived.

“Jalapenos are coming up pretty well,” he said in early February. “There should be good volumes coming in.”

Mirzakhani said growers trimmed the freeze damage from the plants’ tops.

In early February, Orrin Cope, president of Orrin H. Cope Produce Inc., Homestead, quoted long hots selling for in the $20s per box with finger hots selling for $12-16.

Cope estimated hot peppers sustained damage up to 80%.

Florida growers pick hot peppers through the winter and into April.


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