As higher prices that characterized the freeze-ridden and smaller-volume Florida deals begin settling to lower levels, south Georgia packers were awaiting the start of a season expected to bring normal spring production.
Because of the freeze damage, Florida growers quickly replanted and brought many of their crops to market later than usual.
Georgia growers say they’re not sure how long Florida shipments of Southern vegetables could run into the opening of their deal.
Joey Johnson, president of J&S Produce Inc., Mount Vernon, Ga., said Florida shipments of green beans, for example, may run through the mid-May start of Georgia production.
“Production costs have been going up the last few years, and we have received better prices. But there is a breaking point on everything,” he said. “With Florida coming in late, it could create some problems for us at the beginning of the season.”
Otherwise, J&S’ growers remain on schedule and are enthusiastic about the start of their spring production, Johnson said.
Harry Sheaffer, salesman for Blackwater Produce LLC, Lake Park, Ga., the sales agent for Lake Park-based Coggins Farm and Produce Inc., said cooler-than-normal weather that ran into early spring could make some crops a little later than normal.
“Everything will be a little bit late,” he said in mid-April. “Though it has warmed up recently, things should be on the late side. So far, we haven’t seen any quality issues. Everything looks well.”
Sheaffer said bell pepper prices have remained high, green bean prices have begun to decline, squash prices fell a little but have since picked back up, and cucumber prices that were lower were starting to firm up in late April.
He said items that were higher than normal during Florida’s season of shortfalls should return to normal levels and thus help restart produce movement.
Most Georgia-grown vegetables were expected to start harvesting in early, mid- or late May.
Jon Schwalls, director of operations for Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable Inc., Norman Park, Ga., said most vegetables should start about a week later than normal.