A Jan. 11 freeze destroyed most of the sweet corn and green bean crops in Belle Glade, Fla. Florida growers also lost significant portions of bell pepper and squash crops.
damaged 60% to 70% of Immokaleeâs bell peppers and a portion of its squash.
It could take months before Immokalee returns to normal production, said Jim Monteith, sales manager for Pacific Collier Fresh Co.
âThis is pretty bad,â Monteith said Jan. 12. âIt will be two months minimal before we are back into full production. We will start harvesting some of the product that made it through the freeze next Monday (Jan. 18) but with minimal volume.
âWe donât know how much we are going to be able to run. Itâs going to be really hard to determine how much of the crop we will be able to harvest,â he said.
Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager for Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, said losses to crops grown in Palm Beach County will be high.
âIt appears that we have lost all of our winter corn and winter beans in Belle Glade,â he said Jan. 12. âThere may be a planting or two on warmer land that we may be able to save, but for the most part we were completely wiped out in Belle Glade. Fortunately, our spring crop is going in the ground now, and weather permitting, if we have no more future freezes, we should have all of our normal spring volume.â
Damage in Homestead â which during January and February ships most of Floridaâs winter corn crop that is packed and marketed in Belle Glade â was being assessed Jan. 11, Biederman said.
Belle Glade normally harvests smaller volume until late March and early April when Belle Gladeâs spring deal ramps up.
Growers in Belle Glade, Homestead and Immokalee grow beans during the winter.
Biederman said one of Pioneerâs Homestead beans growers lost hundreds of acres to the cold.
Monteith said the arctic temperatures also froze out south Florida squash. He said it could take a couple of weeks before growers resume harvesting.
Monteith said the U.S. Department of Agriculture isnât reporting prices for Florida vegetables because of the damage. He said he called around and heard quotes for $26 for 1-1/9 bushel cartons for jumbo bell peppers and $24 for large.
On corn, Biederman said the market has shot up to $18 from $12 the week before for wirebound crates of 4-4 1/2 dozen.
Beans have jumped to more than $36. Biederman said beans had been slowly increasing in price after a slight market bump before the freezes, when they had been selling in the high $20s for bushels, hampers and crates.
Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., is leading a bipartisan effort with Floridaâs congressional delegation to help the stateâs farmers gain federal disaster assistance.
âFrom our citrus groves, to our fields to our tropical fish ponds, initial reports indicate we have seen some of the most damaging weather Floridaâs experienced in more than a decade,â Putnam said in a release. âIt may be days before an exact dollar figure can be established, but we know itâs been a severe blow to one of the most important parts of Floridaâs economy. We need to make sure the federal government is moving as rapidly as possible to evaluate the damage and make the appropriate response.â
The letter has 12 Florida congressional representatives and senators requesting a thorough and expedited review of the damage assessment and emergency disaster declaration request.