Southern vegetables to begin later

05/10/2013 10:19:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

A cold and wet winter and early spring helped push back many south Georgia vegetables.

Georgia growers produce bell peppers, cucumbers, squash and eggplant.

Bell peppers

Though some pepper harvesting begins May 15, the deal usually begins in earnest May 20-24 and this year isn’t an exception.

Growers expect harvesting to start May 25.

“The peppers look good,” Steve Sterling, salesman for the Lake Park, Ga.-based Fresh Link Consolidation LLC, the sales firm for Coggins Farm and Produce Inc., said in late April.

“Central Florida normally goes to late May on the bells. The transition usually goes well, but it depends on quality and how much rain they get. I think there could be some gaps this year between the two due to the weather.”

In late April, Sterling characterized Florida pepper prices as higher than normal.

Quoting $18-$20 for large peppers, Sterling said prices were cheap most of the winter and didn’t exceed $12 until April when prices began to climb.

On May 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported 1 1/9-bushel cartons of jumbos and extra larges from all Florida districts selling for $18.35 with large at $14.35.

Sterling attributes the higher prices to fewer plantings.

Dug Schwalls, sales director for Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable Inc., Norman Park, Ga., said peppers look strong.

“They look great,” he said in late April. “The plants look really healthy. There are some areas where some plants are yellow-looking because of excess water, but for the most part, they look very good.”

Schwalls said last fall was a disaster because viruses struck many growers’ fields.

Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., Cheriton, Va., said bell peppers look good.

“We are anticipating a smooth transition from Florida as long as we’re not in it longer than a week behind. Usually, we have a week overlap, which is what you want.”

Georgia typically ships into early July.

Cucumbers

Though Georgia growers in many years begin cucumber harvesting in early May, the deal normally doesn’t begin until mid-May.

Coggins’ Sterling said the grower plans to start May 15.

“I’d say they look pretty decent considering the weather they’ve been through,” he said in late April. “The quality will be good.”

Sterling said Florida enjoyed high markets for most of the winter.

According to the USDA, 1 1/9-bushel cartons of waxed medium cucumbers from central and south Florida on May 6 sold for $10-10.35 with cartons of 24s selling for $3-3.35.


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