( Courtesy Fresh From Florida )

Florida tomato volume remains steady, while quality is holding strong.

“Growing conditions have been great,” said Michael Schadler, executive vice president for the Maitland-based Florida Tomato Exchange

“Hurricane Dorian didn’t have any impact. We had an exceptionally dry September for Florida standards, but that has probably helped mitigate disease pressure for most growers,” he said. 

“The crop looks very good.”

Fall tomato harvest will move down the state as grower in northern Florida began in late September and will continue into November.

The central Florida deal began the second half of October and the southern part of the state is set to begin in the late fall and continue through winter.

Schadler expects volumes to be comparable to the past two seasons.

“Round tomatoes should total between 26 million and 28 million boxes,” he said. 

“Rounds typically make up about 70% of Florida’s production with romas and snacking varieties making up the balance.”

The possible North America market effect of the tomato suspension agreement between Mexican tomato growers and the Department of Commerce has yet to be determined, Schadler said.

The Sept. 19 agreement signed by the Commerce Department and Mexican tomato growers remains “in force” pending a decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission on injury caused by dumping. 

Some Mexican tomato leaders have expressed strong reservations about the agreement, particularly concerning its provision for mandatory inspection of most Mexican tomato exports to the U.S.

“Canada remains a very important market for Florida and we expect the market to remain steady this year. If the new suspension agreement is effective, we could see an increase in low-priced Mexican tomatoes shipped to Canada, which would in turn put pressure on Florida exports to that market,” Schadler said.

“We are entering uncharted waters with the new suspension agreement, so we’ll need to wait to see the impact this has on the market once the big Mexican volumes begin. We are hopeful that the tougher enforcement provisions in the new agreement will reduce extended periods of low pricing and bring more stability to the market for all involved.”

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