Georgia produce growers remain optimistic despite tough year so far

09/13/2010 03:43:54 PM
Abbie Stutzer

Georgia’s summer crop experienced a rough time this year, which may be the reason fewer growers are producing this year.

“Georgia did not have much of a window this summer and there was a lot of overlapping from Florida to the Carolinas,” said Shay Kennedy, vice president of Georgia Vegetable Co. Inc., Tifton. “The prices were especially low on beans and squash from mid-May to mid-June. Also, the corn market was terrible in Georgia.”

Kennedy said watermelon overproduction earlier this year killed prices, causing grower-shippers to rethink their plans for fall crops.

“I think a lot of growers are growing less produce this fall in Georgia than in the past, so I think we’ll see higher prices due to (smaller) supplies of cucumbers, beans and peppers.”

Georgia Vegetable grows mostly beans, squash and greens but also some cucumbers, peppers, eggplant and cabbage. Eggplant and squash should be harvested in August and early September, Kennedy said.

Gary Stafford, sales coordinator and green bean manager for Hugh H. Branch, Inc., Pahokee, Fla., said his company specializes in yellow, white and bicolor sweet corn and green beans. The company offers a full line of products such as corn and snipped beans.

The company’s most popular variety is the bicolor variety sweet corn. It continues to grow in demand as growers are increasing production to meet demand, Stafford said.

Hugh H. Branch’s fall crop of corn and green beans generally runs from Oct. 1 until Nov. 15.

Stafford said pricing trends have been depressed over the past six to eight months because of overproduction.

Harry Sheaffer, salesman for Blackwater Produce LLC, Lake Park, Ga., the sales agent for Coggins Farm and Produce Inc., Lake Park, said the company carries a full line of mixed vegetables, including bell peppers, cucumbers, beans, eggplants, squash, hot peppers, carrots, tomatoes and cabbage.

Acreage is down on most crops this season, Sheaffer said.

“It looks like volume will be down from previous years after a rough spring crop,” Sheaffer said. “Pricing continues to seem to fall.”

Steven Johnson, sales manager at South Georgia Produce Inc., Lake Park, Ga., said his company ships fall crops of bell peppers cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, hot peppers and squash. Acreage should hold steady, at least for South Georgia Produce, he said.

“I would say that we should remain about the same as far as acreage for our fall crop,” Johnson said.

“However, I don’t believe the same can be said for all the other grower-shippers in Georgia this fall. I don’t foresee any substantial growth this year as far as industry growth is concerned.”


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