“Growing conditions have been good,” he said in late April. “The crops look well.”
Growers say the season looks to be a strong one.
“There was a lot of product seeded in the ground early on that just sat there for a while,” Steven Johnson, salesman for Lake Park-based South Georgia Produce Inc., said in late April. “But it’s up now, and the weather has been good. It’s almost been too good lately. Everything looks good at the moment. We have gone from wintertime straight to summertime this season.”
Growers of some Georgia-grown fruit, however, such as blueberries, anticipate starting harvesting much later than normal. Watermelon and cantaloupe production should start only a couple of days to a week late, shippers said.
“We should be a week behind on our start but volume should hit about right,” Greg Leger, president of and partner in Cordele, Ga.-based watermelon grower-shipper Leger & Son Inc., said in mid-April. “The weather, however, has been nice lately.”
The state’s blueberries matured several weeks later than normal, and pickings were expected to begin in early May, later than last year’s April 19 start.
“With freezes last year and the year before, this year should be a more normal season, with higher volume,” Keith Mixon, president and chief executive officer of SunnyRidge Farm Inc., Winter Haven, Fla., said in late April.
The state’s peach deal, which has been battered by devastating freezes for the past three seasons, is expected to recover to a more typical season.
Buyers should expect large volume at the beginning of peach harvest.
“While 2007 and 2008 were bad years, last year was closer to normal for us,” said Al Pearson Jr., president of and managing partner in Pearson Farm, Fort Valley, Ga. “But this year, we didn’t have any frost loss like we have had. We plan to ship more normal volume.”