BELLE GLADE, Fla. — Buyers should expect stronger than normal volume of Florida sweet corn through Memorial Day.

Florida growers harvest bumper spring corn crop

Doug Ohlemeier

Dan Allen (from left), packaging operations manager of R.C. Hatton Farms, Pahokee, Fla., Mark Allen, farming operations director and Paul Allen, vice president and co-owner, examine yellow sweet corn in mid-April. Growers say retailers can expect a bumper crop of Florida corn which has for the first time in several years hit its normal April spring window.

For the first time in several spring seasons, south Florida growers are enjoying normal April volume.

Grower-shippers say peak production should hit in early May and run strong leading up to Memorial Day.

“We have been blessed with our growing conditions,” Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, said in mid-April. “The spring crop is as strong as we have seen in quality and yield. This is the first time in three to four years that we have hit our spring window in early April with volume.”

Paul Allen, vice president and co-owner of Pahokee-based R.C. Hatton Farms, which markets corn through Hugh H. Branch Inc., Pahokee, said members of the Florida Sweet Corn Exchange shipped 872,000 crates to retailers the week of April 11. He said that’s abnormally high volume.

Allen said positive growing season weather has helped bring the corn on and he expects growers to pack more than 1 million crates the week of April 18 and exceed 1.5 million crates each week through late May.

“We expect to move more sweet corn than we have ever for a spring crop,” Allen said April 18. “The chains are really backing us. The promotions are set, they’re supporting us with strong promotions and are really moving the volume.”

Florida growers harvest bumper spring corn crop

Doug Ohlemeier

Workers pack tray pack corn at Pioneer Growers Co-op in Belle Glade, Fla., in mid-April. For the first time in several spring seasons, south Florida growers are enjoying normal April volume.

Allen said R.C. Hatton plans to ship 800,000 crates in April and May.

In mid-April, Allen and Biederman quoted $9.20 for wirebound crates of 4-4 1/2 dozen yellow, white and bicolor corn. That’s lower than last season in late April when the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported those same crates and colors selling for $24.95.

Biederman said $9.20 is the price growers have quoted for May shipments.

Tommy Holt, grower-owner of S. M. Jones & Co. Inc., also characterized demand as lower than normal, primarily because of adverse spring weather discouraging shoppers from grilling corn.

“The weather is still bad up north,” he said in mid-April. “The Northeast is our biggest market. We’re not selling as much because of the unfavorable weather up there.”

Holt said the season is going well and said buyers should expect an abundance of supply for the Memorial Day weekend promotions.

Though some Georgia growers may begin harvesting small volumes May 20-25, Biederman said the major Georgia volume shouldn’t start until around Memorial Day and should coincide well with the ending of the Belle Glade spring deal.

Homestead winter production ended for most growers in late March and Biederman said Pioneer’s growers began harvesting in early April.