BELLE GLADE, Fla. — South Florida is finishing its spring celery production.

South Florida celery production winds down; lettuce ends

Doug Ohlemeier

Perry Yance, assistant farm manager for Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., views some celery in mid-April.
Florida is winding down its celery season.

The deal, which usually starts in mid- to late December, is expected to end by late April.

Perry Yance, assistant farm manager of Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the Oviedo-based fresh division of A. Duda & Sons Inc., said the week of April 25 will be the last big week of Florida production. Fresh harvesting should quickly taper off before the harvest moves to the processed deal, he said.

Despite weather challenges, Yance said the season has been strong for Florida celery.

“It was tough going in December because of the cold,” he said in mid-April. “The celery had trouble growing. But now, the weather is telling you it’s time to quit growing in Florida. These rainstorms followed by high heat can wrap up Florida vegetables quickly.”

Pioneer Growers Co-op ended its celery harvesting April 16, which is a typical finish date. Last season, the growers finished harvesting April 5. Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager, said the season turned out well.

“We had a very good season and are happy with the quality,” he said April 20. “We received a strong response from the customers and are looking forward to growing it again next season.”

Biederman called demand strong and said prices got as high as $34 a carton for cartons of 2 dozen, 2 1/2 dozen and 3 dozen during the winter but for the most part said the deal averaged $12-16.

Excessive rains that moved through Florida in late March caused a premature end to the region’s lettuce deal. Palm Beach County normally finishes production in late April but production ended in early April after the region was pounded by 2.5 inches of rain in one day followed by 90-degree temperatures the next day. Yance said that contrast was too much for the lettuce.

Duda was still planting radishes in mid-April and expects to finish production in late May, Yance said.

Pioneer plans to finish its radish harvesting in mid-May.