Plenty of good growing weather this year means supplies of sweet corn and green beans are expected to be very good, grower-shippers say.
"We had no weather issues other than a single frost event in December that affected planting," said Jake Davis, salesman with Branch: A Family of Farms, South Bay, Fla.
He anticipates spring sweet corn will be "bountiful," and expects to harvest in April and May.
Scotlynn Sweet Pac Growers LLC, Belle Glade, Fla., anticipates big volumes and good quality, with harvesting beginning earlier than normal.
"We're looking at a bumper crop of sweet corn," said Scotlynn partner Bryan Biederman. "Everything has been amazing."
Biederman said the company should hit stride with its larger plantings earlier than normal - perhaps as early as the third week of March.
"We're looking at promotable volumes by April 1 and expect to be harvesting until early June," he said.
In Belle Glade, Fla., Pioneer Growers Cooperative sales manager Jon Browder agreed.
"Corn from Homestead will finish up by the end of March, then shift to Belle Glade. If the weather continues to be beautiful, we should be looking at a great crop through Memorial Day," he said.
On March 6, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $9.15 for wire-bound crates of 4-4½ dozen yellow, white or bicolor corn from central and South Florida.
A year ago, yellow and bicolor sold for $26.95-28.95, and white was in too few hands to establish a market.
Browder is also optimistic about the green bean harvest.
"Volume has picked up. We should see good volume for Easter this year," he said.
Biederman concurred, and expects a steady harvest through mid-May.
Florida green beans start in January in the southern parts of the state around Okeechobee, then move to central Florida regions such as Plant City in mid-March, said Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers, Cheriton, Va.
Cullen said he expects plenty of volume and good quality as long as the weather continues to hold.
Chris Tordonato, sales manager with Florida Specialties Inc., Immokalee, Fla., expects a return to "normal" this year for beans.
"The very nice weather we enjoyed this winter should produce a good bean crop with normal volumes," he said. "Pricing should be about average as well this year."
Jones Potato Farm, Parrish, Fla., which grows green beans for the fresh market, is packing in a new 40,000-square-foot green bean facility in Palmetto, Fla.
The first beans were packed in late December, with spring bean packing scheduled to begin in April. Jones Farms packs green beans under the VL Walker label.
On March 6, the USDA reported cartons/crates of round green handpicked beans from central and South Florida sold for $18.35-20.35, and machine-picked sold for $14.35-14.85.
A year ago, handpicked sold for $38.35-40.85, and machine-picked sold for $34.85-36.85.