By Andy Nelson, The Packer

February freezes and other weather problems will limit supplies of some Florida spring vegetable crops, but not all, grower-shippers said.

Supplies of corn and beans sold by Belle Glade-based Wilkinson-Cooper Produce Inc. will be considerably lower leading up to Easter (April 8), said Randy Wilkinson, president.

"Corn is extremely light -- we're still thinking we won't have good supplies until April 16 or April 23," he said. "Corn won?t be promotable for Easter at all."

On March 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture f.o.b.s at $16.70 for wirebound crates of 4-4 ½ dozen yellow, white and bicolor corn, up from $10.70-14.70 last year at the same time.

By late March, green bean volumes had returned to normal for Wilkinson-Cooper -- but not for good, Wilkinson predicted. Some fields were largely untouched by the freezes, he said, while others were devastated. When the company begins shipping from hard-hit fields again, volumes could go down, he said.

Cold hasn't been the only weather culprit this year, Wilkinson said.

"This has been one of the driest years I can remember," he said. "We really haven't had any rain the entire season."

Wind also has been a problem, scarring squash and scarring and misshaping cucumbers grown by J&J Produce, Loxahatchee, said Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing.

J&J should, however, be back on track by Easter, Rayfield said.

"If you'd called a week ago, I?d still be complaining," he said March 27. "Things are looking much better now. We should have excellent volumes for Easter pull."

The freezes also took a bite out of Homestead-based Five Bros. Produce Inc.'s bean deal, said Fred Moore, salesman.

"We'll miss a little bit of the Easter business because of the cold," he said. "Everything looks really good right now, the crops are coming on good, but we don?t have the volume."

Moore expected strong bean markets for Easter sales.

On March 27, the USDA reported prices of $14.85-16.85 for bushels of round green machine-picked beans, up from $10.85 last year at the same time.

Shortly after the holiday, however, bean volumes should be back to normal, Moore said.