Mild winter, spring gives Georgia Produce an early start

05/04/2012 01:16:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

“Things moved ahead. The quality looks well up there as well.”

Buyers should expect earlier starts to the state’s blueberry, peach and watermelon crops.

Growers estimate 50% losses to the early southern highbush crop from Feb. 11-12 freezes.

“The highbush volume are substantially down,” said Jerry D’Amore, director of sourcing for Watsonville, Calif.-based Dole Berry Co. LLC’s Winter Haven, Fla., operation.

“What volume they have will come earlier than usual. Volumes will be light enough to see the Florida deal going until every berry is picked to late May, going beyond a normal Florida cycle.”

Will McGehee, salesman with Genuine Georgia Group and Pearson Farm, Fort Valley, Ga., said this season’s peach crop should start with small production in the southern regions in late April and early May. He expects the bulk of Georgia’s production to hit May 13, possibly a week earlier than the normal mid-May start.

“We dodged a bullet with the freeze, and, with the mild winter we had, we are excited for the season,” McGehee said in mid-April.

“We are seeing nice fruit set. There’s a lot of optimism in the deal.”

On watermelon, grower-shippers look to start by early June, before the normal June 5-10 start.

Greg Leger, president and partner in Leger & Son Inc., Cordele, Ga., said warm weather could move growers to begin harvesting in late May.

“As everyone’s moving a little early, it should all slot all together,” he said in late April.

“North Florida may come in a little before Memorial Day this year instead of after, as usual. I think it will all be balanced and hopefully there won’t be any lumps in the chain.”

Georgia growers also produce volumes of cabbage, tomatoes, greens and cantaloupe.


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