Grower-shippers expect promotable supplies of high-quality fruits and vegetables for the Fourth of July.

Abundant volumes in store for Fourth of July favorites

Pamela Riemenschneider

The quality of the sweet corn shipping from Georgia for the holiday could be the best in the more than 15 years the Belle Glade, Fla.-based Wilkinson-Cooper Produce Inc. has shipped from the region, said Randy Wilkinson, president.

Yields also are good, Wilkinson said, and with similar acreage as last year, there should be plenty of yellow, white and bi-color corn on hand for Fourth of July promotions.

With Florida and Georgia shipping simultaneously in early June, markets would likely stay low until June 9-12, Wilkinson said. In the runup to the holiday, however, markets should strengthen as Florida production winds down, he said.

On June 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $7.45-9.45 for wirebound crates of four dozen ears of sweet corn from Georgia, comparable to $8.95 last year at the same time.

Watermelon

With nearly ideal growing conditions, Southeast watermelon volumes should be abundant and quality excellent for the Fourth of July, said Randy Smith, vice president of Midwest Marketing Co. Inc., Vincennes, Ind.

With South Carolina volumes coming on in time to take advantage of holiday pull, there should be plenty of fruit on the market, Smith said.

“There will be a lot of watermelons for the Fourth, I believe,” he said.

After Memorial Day, watermelon prices were falling rapidly, and Smith wasn’t sure where they would bottom out. But he expected a price of about 16 cents per pound for the Fourth.

On June 1, the USDA reported prices of $15-16 per cwt. for 24 inch bins of seedless watermel-ons 36s from Florida, up from $12 last year at the same time.

Blueberries

Blueberry supplies also should be abundant for the holiday, said Tim Wetherbee, sales manager for Diamond Blueberry Inc., Hammonton, N.J.

Fruit should have the quality to match, he said.

“Size, quality and coloring should be excellent,” he said. “There will be plenty of berries for the holiday — we’ll be able to handle anything (retailers) throw at us.”

Diamond Blueberries expects a slight bump in volumes for the Fourth this year, said Wetherbee, expects strong demand for the holiday.

Warm days and nights late in the growing season should mean that some growers will begin har-vesting the week of June 7, about a week earlier than normal, he said.

On June 1, the USDA reported prices of $18-21 for flats of 12 1-pint cups of medium and large blueberries from California, down from $22-26 last year at the same time.