Georgia produce growers remain optimistic despite tough year so far - The Packer

Georgia produce growers remain optimistic despite tough year so far

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

Georgia growers remain optimistic that this year’s various vegetable crops will be prosperous.

How well produce does this year greatly depends on the weather, said Joey Johnson, president and co-owner of J&S Produce Inc., Mount Vernon, Ga.

Jon Schwalls, director of operations for Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable Inc., Norman Park, Ga., said he hopes there isn’t an early frost like there was last year.

“Barring any adverse weather conditions, our supply should be steady throughout,” Schwalls said.

Calvert Cullen, president of North Hampton Growers, Cheritan, Va., said his company recently began planting zucchini and yellow squash. The company will begin to harvest squash in mid-September. Cullen projected 40,000 boxes of squash this year.

North Hampton Growers planted close to 100 acres for this year’s Georgia deal, Cullen said. Cullen anticipates similar or better demand for Georgia produce compared to last year.

Later in the season, Cullen said his company should begin to harvest cucumbers on Oct. 1, and 50,000 boxes are projected.

North Hampton Growers expects to harvest 100,000 cartons of bell peppers and 60,000 cartons of mixed peppers. The company also offers a hot pepper mix.

The company also expects to ships 60,000 boxes of cabbage beginning in November. The company also ships squash, eggplant (in mid-October), green beans and corn.

Joey Johnson, president and co-owner of J&S Produce Inc., Mount Vernon, Ga., said his company’s Georgia produce deal this year is similar to last year’s deal.

“Our deal is about the same, we actually harvested more green beans this spring then we have in the past. Our crookneck squash is about the same,” he said.

J&S Produce also carries a lot of green beans and Vidalia onions, he said. The company is growing 1,500 acres of crookneck squash, 250 acres of zucchini, 1,000 acres of green beans and 150 acres of cranberry beans and Kentucky beans combined, he said.

“We continue to plant all through the summer into the fall with regular intervals with yellow crookneck squash and zucchini. We are about two weeks late with bean plantings due to (high) temperatures. We usually start bean plantings around Aug. 5. This year we had our first fall planting on Aug. 16,” he said.

Schwalls at Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable said his company’s specialty produce item is pole-grown cucumbers.

The produce that will be harvested first this fall at Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable is eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. The company’s fall crop should start in early September and continue until Thanksgiving.

Schwalls said the company would have roughly the same amount of acreage as last year.

Last year’s crop deal was pretty spotty, he said. There was an early fall frost last year around Sept. 13. The company hopes to have a steady supply compared to last fall, he said.

“We hope to not get wiped out,” Schwalls said.

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