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

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

Brian Basore, sales manager with TKM Bengard Farms LLC, said lettuce overall survived the freezes well.

He said romaine and other tender leafy items sustained some damage, but that the plants grew out of the damage and harvesters peeled back any bad leaves.

“The quality we are getting is very good,” he said in mid-February. “The varieties we are growing are getting to be very close to the western-style leaf varieties.”

TKM harvests most of its lettuce for fresh-cut processing customers.

TKM plans to harvest through early May.

For south Florida endive-escarole, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported these prices in late February: 1 1/9-bushel cartons/crates 18s include some 14 and 16 count packs, $24.95-25.95; carton 24s, $26.95-27.95.

Last year in late February, the USDA reported endive 1 1/9-bushel cartons/crates 18s include some 14- and 16-count packs selling for $9.95; carton 24s $10.95. Escarole 1 1/9-bushel cartons/crates include some 14- and 16-count packs $10.95; cartons 24s, $11.95.

Celery

Disastrous growing conditions in California and Arizona have kept celery prices high.

Demand for South Florida celery has remained strong, Bedsole said. In late February, he quoted $34.95 for cartons of 2s, 2.5s, and 3s.

“Based off what’s going on out west, demand exceeds supply thus far,” he said. “We’re seeing extra demand because of it. Florida quality is very good and volumes are strong. Overall, we’re having a good season in south Florida.”

Bedsole said December’s cold didn’t harm south Florida celery. He said Duda expects to have consistent volumes and strong quality throughout the deal which he said should end in late April. Volume and supplies, he said, should remain consistent with last season’s.

Bedsole said Duda has incrementally increased its celery acreage from the previous season, but declined to state the numbers or volume.

Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, called markets strong.

He quoted $12-16 in early February for cartons and crates of 2 dozen.

By late February, the USDA reported cartons and crates of 2 dozen had increased to $16.95.

In mid-October , the U.S. Department of Agriculture was reporting cartons of 2 dozen, 2 1/2 dozen and 3 dozen from south Florida selling for $34.95 compared to last year in late February when the USDA reported those same sizes from south Florida selling for $20.95-21.95

Biederman noted the December cold didn’t ignore celery.

“Early on, it had some cold weather damage but we’ve outgrown that,” he said. “We saw some unreal temperatures, in the 20s in the fields. That will affect the outer leaves and how quickly it grows and how healthy it remains. It has been very nice quality and well-received.”



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