After a tumultuous spring that brought freezing temperatures and heavy rains, the major Southern vegetables — bell peppers, cucumbers and squash — started harvesting as much as 15-20 days later than usual, said Dug Schwalls, sales director for Norman Park-based Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable Inc.
Normal volume isn’t expected until early June, he said in late May.
“This is the latest we’ve ever been in Georgia,” Schwalls said. “I can’t remember when we weren’t wide-open picking everything the week before Memorial Day.”
Despite the late start, the crops look good and Schwalls characterized quality as high.
He said the deal looks like it should be a strong season.
In late May, Ken Corbett Farms LLC was in peak volume for cucumbers and zucchini or green squash and began harvesting bell peppers in larger volumes, said Jeff Stepanovich, sales manager.
“Yields are off across the board for more products and the Georgia season is going to be way behind due to the cold and heavy rain.”
Demand in late May was high and Stepanovich and the U.S. Department of Agriculture quoted these prices from south Georgia:
Bell peppers sold for $30.35-30.85 for 1 1/9 bushel cartons of jumbos and extra large; for cucumbers, 1 1/9 bushel cartons of waxed mediums sold for $28.35-28.85 for supers with cartons of 24s selling for $12.35-12.85.
For squash, the USDA in late May reported 1/2 and 5/9 bushel cartons of zucchini small $16.35-18.85, medium, $12.35-16.85; 1/2 bushel cartons of yellow straightneck small, $18.35-22.85 with medium at $16.35-18.85; 3/4 bushel cartons of yellow crookneck, small, $20.35-24.85 with medium garnering $16.35-16.85.
Last year in early June, the USDA reported these prices from Georgia:
Bell peppers sold for $16.35-20.85 for the jumbos, $16.35-18.85 for extra large and $14.35-16.85 for large.
For cucumbers, 1 1/9 bushel cartons mediums sold for $14.85-18.85 for supers while the cartons of 24s sold for $4.35-8.85.
On squash, 1/2 and 5/9 bushel cartons of zucchini and yellow straightneck small $6.35-8.85, medium, $4.35-6.85; 3/4 bushel cartons of yellow crookneck, small, $8.35-10.85 with medium garnering $3.35-6.85.
Shan Garner, salesman with South Georgia Produce Inc., agreed that early season demand remains high.
“Yields are high and the product looks good,” he said in late May.
“Though the deal got off to a slower than expected start, things are getting better. We haven’t had any troubles.”
In mid-late May, South Georgia Produce was running cucumbers and green beans and began harvesting bell peppers and squash later in the month, Garner said.
Georgia growers typically harvest through early July.