IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Despite slogging through heavy early fall rains that disrupted plantings and kept growers from entering their fields, Florida grower-shippers expect fall harvesting to begin on-time as usual for most crops.
With the exception of green beans, shippers say buyers should look for smooth transitions from Georgia to the Sunshine State.
Beans are the only commodity that could see possible skips or gaps, said Calvert Cullen, president of Cheriton, Va.-based Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., which grows in south Georgia and Florida.
Soggy fields delayed plantings and Cullen said bean supplies should be tight after the expected Nov. 10 Florida start through Thanksgiving.
On Sept. 27-28, overnight temperatures in south Georgia sank to 46 degrees, slowing harvesting but temperatures quickly warmed, he said.
Cullen characterized Georgia quality as high and said Florida plantings also appear strong.
“Based on the way we have things planted, in general, it should be a good transition from Georgia,” he said Oct. 6. “The biggest thing will be if we run out of supplies in Georgia early. As long as we don’t have any cold snaps, everything should transition well.”
Cullen said Northampton plans to start its other Florida vegetables on time with squash beginning Oct. 20, bell peppers and cucumbers in mid-November with eggplant expected to commence in late November.
In early October, Georgia was beginning harvesting pepper volume and Myakka City-based Utopia Packing LLC, a division of Utopia Farms, planned to start central Florida harvesting Oct. 20, said Jim Monteith, sales manager.
“During the past couple of weeks, Georgia has been dealing with weather issues, with lots of cloudy days and rain,” he said in early October. “Their production on a lot of items isn’t where it should be.”
Those unfavorable growing conditions are helping keep prices higher than normal for cucumbers and squash but average prices for pepper, Monteith said.
On Oct. 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported bushel cartons/crates of machine-picked and handpicked round green beans from south Georgia selling for $18.35-20.85.
For bell pepper, the USDA reported light south Georgia supplies and quoted 1 1/9-bushel cartons of jumbos and extra larges selling for $12.35-14.85 with large marketing for $10.35-12.85.
On cucumbers, the USDA reported 1 1/9-bushel cartons of waxed mediums from south Georgia selling for $20.35-20.85 with cartons of 24s fetching $10.35-10.85.
The USDA reported these prices for squash: 1/2- and 5/9-bushel cartons and crates of zucchini small, $20.35-22.85; medium, $18.35-18.85; yellow straightneck small, $18.35-20.85; medium, $16.35-16.85; 3/4-bushel cartons of yellow crookneck small, $18.35-20.85 with mediums fetching $16.35-16.85.
In south Florida, Brian Arrigo, president of Immokalee-based Southern Corporate Packers Inc., plans to begin harvesting pepper, cucumbers and squash in early- to mid-November.
“Everything that has gone into the ground is looking good so far,” he said in early October. “Because of the rain, the plants have been stressed a bit but they will survive. The vine crops, the cucumbers and melons, they are stressed more. Our next plantings, however, the second and third plantings, they seem to be strong and healthy. Our bells and specialty peppers are coming along fine.”