Southern Corporate Packers increases acreage, adds productsIMMOKALEE, Fla. — Southern Corporate Packers Inc., is increasing acreage, growing some new items and expanding production of a commodity that isn’t widely grown in the fall.

Hard squash and cantaloupe join the grower-shipper’s catalog while it increases its watermelon production.

Brian Arrigo, president, said acreage of bell peppers, cucumbers, squash and eggplant is up 25% from last season.

This will be the first fall season for cantaloupe which Southern Corporate plans to harvest from late October to early December.

On watermelon, which in Florida is mostly grown in the spring, acreage for the fall and spring seasons is up 200%, Arrigo said.

Southern Corporate planned to begin harvesting large volumes on Nov.1.

Southern Corporate Packers increases acreage, adds productsThough spring production dwarfs fall volume, the company this year doubled fall acreage, Arrigo said.

It has been growing fall watermelons for a number of years and the expansion is an effort to provide a year-round supply, he said.

The company is trying to grow and supply hard squash year-round as well.

It plans to begin harvesting in mid-March and start North Carolina production in early June with Ontario production in August before the deal moves to Mexico.

“We are seeing steady demand for all our items,” Arrigo said. “We will have vegetables throughout the summer from North Carolina and Canada and we are able to supply year-round with more commodities because of more continuous supply. We have a marketing plan of a growth every year of 20% or more.”

This fall, Southern Corporate plans to ship 300 loads of watermelon and up to 1 million cartons of vegetables, Arrigo said.