(Feb. 19) Bad weather could make cabbage grower-shippers scramble to keep up with St. Patrick’s Day demand.

All manner of wild weather in Texas, Florida and California will cut significantly into supplies for the holiday, which falls on March 17, grower-shippers predicted.

Supplies could be down as much as 30%, said George Gillespie, vice president of Valley Shore Farms Inc., Moultrie, Ga.

“It will be as light as it’s been in years,” Gillespie said. “There are going to be some gaps. Everybody’s being very careful about commitments.”

Val Verde Vegetable Co. Inc., McAllen, Texas, hopes to be able to ship cabbage in promotable volumes for St. Patrick’s Day, said Frank Schuster, president, but he’s not counting on it. So far, the season has been too erratic to make too many long-term predictions.

“Supplies will be available, but not plentiful,” he said. “In some cases, supplies have come in two weeks early, in other cases a week late. It’s been a little more difficult to plan than usual.”

Lower volumes have meant stronger markets, Gillespie said, and he doesn’t see them weakening as St. Patrick’s Day approaches.

On Feb. 13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $9 for 50-pound cartons of round green cabbage from Texas’s Lower Rio Grande Valley, up from $4.50-5 last year at the same time.

While quality has been good, cabbage has been sizing smaller because of the poor weather and because growers are cutting earlier to cover orders, he said.

Schuster reported excellent quality and adequate supplies of 16-18 count cabbage. Supplies of jumbos were down this year, he said.