LAKE WALES, Fla. — Central and south Florida’s spring potato production should run a little longer this season.

Central Florida potato harvest to run later

Doug Ohlemeier

Jason Turner, salesman with Mack Farms Inc., Lake Wales, Fla., with some round red potatoes in late April.
Mack Farms is running high volumes of spring potatoes.

Mack Farms Inc. has been harvesting heavy volume of red, white and yellow potatoes since early March and plans to harvest into mid-May, a week-and-a-half later than the normal early central Florida ending, said Arnold Mack, president and chief executive officer.

Though the season started on time in February, December cold disrupted plantings and prevented promotable volume from hitting until March. Mack said the season got a later than normal.

Mack said overall harvesting is proceeding well and most growers started a little later than normal. Volume, however, has been strong since mid-March.

“The December cold made a lot of our acreage come off at the same time,” Mack said in late April. “Those freezes always bump everything together. Our tonnage is higher and overall, this year is shaping up to be a better year than last year.”

Mack characterized quality as high and called appearance exceptional.

Higher prices

Because of a smaller U.S. storage potato deal, Mack said red potato prices are strong.

In mid-April, Mack quoted $15.75 for 50-pound sacks of U.S. One round reds size A compared to $12.75 the reds fetched last season.

In 2010, the January and February freezes damaged 700 of Mack’s acres.

This year, the December freezes harmed 300 acres.