Spring volume of lettuce, celery and radishes largely survive freeze damage

03/18/2011 04:41:48 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Because of trouble in other growing regions, prices for lettuce and celery remain higher than normal.

Except for lettuce, shippers say the December freezes caused little harm to most of those crops.

While Florida is known for its southern vegetables, the Sunshine State’s grower-shippers also grow other vegetables such as lettuce, celery, radishes and broccoli during the fall, winter and spring.

Lettuce

A small tightening of supplies and increasing demand for Florida lettuce, however, have boosted lettuce prices.

Dan Shiver, co-owner of Hugh H. Branch Inc., Pahokee, said December freezes reduced supplies by 10%.

He quoted romaine selling for $30.95 for 24-count boxes, and escarole and endive in the mid- to upper $20s.


Doug Ohlemeier

Toby Basore (left), farm operations and marketing manager with TKM Bengard Farms LLC, Belle Glade, Fla., and Brian Basore, sales manager, with some newly harvested lettuce in early February. Unfavorable growing conditions in other growing regions have kept lettuce and celery prices higher than normal.


Shiver said romaine prices only increased in February while prices for the other lettuces increased in January.

“There is just exceptional demand for lettuce,” he said in late February. “The market has been very active with high prices. I would expect high prices for the immediate future.”

Shiver characterized quality as excellent and said shippers are receiving strong results from shipments.

Because of unfavorable West Coast weather, Jason Bedsole, sales manager of Eastern vegetables and citrus for Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., in late February said the deal has been strong this season, and said buyers should expect ample supplies and high quality.

He quoted $35 for cartons of lettuce.

Bedsole said lettuce didn’t escape the December freezes.

“It had a bit of a slowdown but we’re over that part,” he said. “Lettuce should be fairly consistent throughout the rest of the deal.”

Bedsole said Duda plans to ship lettuce through mid-April.

He said the deal went well last season and that Duda increased its acreage this year. Bedsole declined to state the acreage or volume.

Duda ships romaine, red leaf, green leaf, escarole, endive, napa, baby bok choy, parsley and cilantro.


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