PLANT CITY, Fla. â Transitioning into a more consistent vegetable and berry supplier, Wishnatzki Farms is becoming a year-round shipper by aligning with growers in North America and South America.
This fall, Wishnatzki plans to begin year-round shipments of blueberries and strawberries, followed by year-round bell pepper and grape and roma tomato production in 2011.
Wishnatzki Farms, which markets under the Wish Farms label, expects to begin shipping Argentinean blueberries Oct. 11 and Chilean berries Dec. 1 by selling for growers there and expanding into year-round strawberry offerings through an alliance with a Salinas, Calif., area-grower who has 100 acres.
After the Southern Hemisphere blueberry deal transitions to Florida in spring, president Gary Wishnatzki said the company plans to secure supplies from other regions, making it a year-round supplier in 2011.
âWe have long had a strategic goal to become year-round suppliers,â Wishnatzki said. âWeâre making that come into fruition now. On some of the product, especially the vegetable side, our short season in the spring and fall in the past has limited us to what offerings we can make to the major chain stores. We will become a more viable option by having this year-round supply.â
The Salinas deal fills Floridaâs strawberry gap from late April when harvest winds down through late November when the stateâs winter deal typically begins.
To bridge the late December and April and May break between its central Florida fall and spring vegetable deals, Wishnatzki Farms in early September purchased 600 acres of land that once grew bell peppers on Pine Island in Charlotte Harbor north of Fort Myers.
Wishnatzki said the island is in one of the stateâs warmest growing regions, guarding bell peppers and tomatoes from Floridaâs winter freezes that can devastate inland production.
Vegetables from a Franklin, N.C., grower, who has supplied Wishnatzki Farms since 2008, have helped fill summer demand.
Wishnatzki said his Florida growers have started harvesting light volumes of squash and fresh pickling cucumbers, and bell pepper and grape and roma tomatoes harvests should start in early November.
The company has also increased Florida strawberry acreage from 1,200 acres last year to more than 1,500 acres this season. Floridaâs season typically begins in December with steady harvesting.