Grower-shippers expect limited supplies of cabbage and high prices for St. Patrick"s Day, March 17.
"I think the market will stay high like it is now some feel it could get stronger," said Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., Cheriton, Va.
Mike Owens, a salesman for Belle Glade, Fla.-based Pioneer Growers Co-op, also expected robust supply-driven demand heading into the holiday.
"There was a lot of weather on some crops. We"re expecting the price to be higher than normal," Owens said. "We"re looking forward to prices in the $12-14 range."
That"s "considerably higher" than typical St. Pat"s prices, Owens said.
On Feb. 11, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $12 for 50-pound cartons of medium round green cabbage from Florida, up from $6.50-7 last year at the same time.
While growers in Southern Florida were expected to produce normal, high-quality crops, Northern Florida was hit by freezes and, Cullen said, the Texas crop could be down 30% thanks to Mother Nature.
While the cold hurt growers elsewhere, it actually helped growers in South Florida, Cullen said.
"It tightened the heads up a bit," he said. "We should have good weight in boxes, and the quality should be excellent."
Cullen expected strong demand and steady volumes for St. Patrick"s.
"The cold set us back a bit, but I think we"re catching up," he said. "Everything"s looking good right now."
Owens also expected good quality for the holiday, with plenty of fancy grade product availability.
"It should be very nice," he said. "We"re expecting 55 to 60 pounds per box for a 16, 18 count."
Pioneer expects to pack about seven loads of cabbage per day in the runup to St. Patrick"s, about normal, Owens said.
After a slow beginning to the season, exacerbated by truck shortages, red potato growers in the Red River Valley are back on track and looking forward to a strong St. Patrick"s Day, said Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director for Northern Plains Potato Growers, East Grand Forks, Minn.
"Our shippers are very busy," Kreis said. "After a late start this fall, volume has been very good."
Grower-shippers were experiencing fewer transportation problems in February, and quality heading into the holiday was much better than last year, he said.
Prices have inched up in recent weeks, Kreis said, and shippers expect them to be stable in coming weeks, with strong pull expected for St. Patrick"s Day.
"Red potatoes traditionally get a big push from retailers" for the holiday, he said.
On Feb. 11, the USDA reported a price of $10.25 for 10 5-pound film bags of size A reds from the Red River Valley, up from $6.50-8 last year at the same time.