(Dec. 3) ORLANDO, Fla. — After weeks of sagging supplies, Florida tomato shippers want to make one point perfectly clear: Volumes are quickly returning, and the quality is good.

When four hurricanes struck the state in August and September, blooms on the early tomato crop from central Florida were blown off the vines, resulting in a lack of supplies once the north Florida deal wrapped up in mid-November.

In recent weeks, harvests on the late crop from central Florida and the first harvests in the Immokalee region of southwest Florida have boosted volumes more than two-fold.

“We’re seeing excellent quality and reasonable supplies,” said Reggie Brown, manager of the Florida Tomato Committee.

In mid-November, Brown said volumes were running at about 35% of normal, but on Dec. 2 he said the industry was about 80% of normal, or 20% off last year’s figures.

“We’ve seen yields about half what they should be, but the tomato quality is remarkably good, and our supplies are increasing steadily,” Brown said. “We would expect prices to begin to respond to the supply accordingly in the next two to three weeks.”

On Nov. 30, f.o.b. prices on 25-pound cartons of mature green 85% U.S. One or better 5x6 were $41.20, while 6x6s and 6x7s were $39.20.

A year ago in late November, f.o.b. prices on 5x6 size were $10.20, while 6x6s were $7.20 and 6x7s $5.20.

Florida tomato volume rebounding from storms