PLANT CITY, Fla. — Florida grower-shippers expect normal fall seasons for squash and eggplant.

Plant City growers began production in early October in light volume.

By mid- to late October, volume increased, said Tom Nicholson, domestic sales manager for Boca Raton-based Ben Litowich & Son Inc.

“The crop is looking good so far,” he said in late October. “We should have very good quality.”

In early and mid-October, Nogales was entering the squash deal as Georgia was beginning to produce some volume, which helped lower prices, Nicholson said.

Immokalee growers, which typically begin harvesting in early November, didn’t plant much early production and Nicholson said he expects south Florida volume to commence in mid-November.

Cheriton, Va.-based Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc. began Plant City harvesting Oct. 20.

“Everything looks good on them,” Calvert Cullen, president, said in late October. “That may help because Georgia supplies are extremely tight due to lack of yields because of heavy rains.”

Prices are running higher than normal.

On Nov. 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported these prices from central and south Florida: half-bushel cartons of zucchini small $8.35, medium, $6.35; yellow straightneck small, $8.35-10.35, medium, $6.35-8.35.

Last year in late October, the USDA reported these prices from central and south Florida: half-bushel cartons of zucchini small $6.35-7.35, medium, $4.35-5.35; yellow straightneck small, $5.35-6.35, medium, $4-4.35.

 

Eggplant

In early and mid-October, eggplant was in strong production in Georgia, Litowich’s Nicholson said.

“The plants look good and growers always produce good quality,” Nicholson said in late October.

He characterized prices on the low end of favorable markets.

Because of average Georgia yields, eggplant prices in early and mid-October were low, said Northampton’s Cullen.

Prices, however, began to improve from the earlier $6 markets, he said, and are actually slightly higher than they were at this time last year.

On Nov. 3, the USDA reported 1 1/9-bushel cartons of eggplant from Georgia selling for $14.35-14.85 for mediums with large selling for $10.35-12.85.

Last year in late October, the USDA reported south Georgia cartons selling for $10.35-10.85 for mediums with large selling for $6.35-8.85.

“Usually, it’s always a smooth transition from Georgia to Florida as there are always enough of them around,” Cullen said.

Northampton plans to begin harvesting in late November.

Southern Corporate Packers started harvesting an early field in late October and planned to harvest larger plantings in early November.

“The eggplant looks good,” Arrigo said in late October. “The first plantings have good size. They’re clean and they’re setting real well and should have good yields.”

Southern Corporate Packers increased its acreage by a modest amount, Arrigo said.

Florida Specialties Inc., planned to begin harvesting in mid-November.

It usually harvests through Dec. 15 as the deal moves offshore before spring production returns March 15, said Chris Tordonato, sales manager.

“The eggplant is looking good,” he said in late October.