WIMAUMA, Fla. — After a difficult spring cabbage deal, Florida grower-shippers look for a fall season that could bring smaller volumes of medium-sized cabbage.
Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC plans to start harvesting its Florida crop on time in early December, said Jeff Williams, president.
As Hearne wasn’t pulling any Southern cabbage in early October, and was sourcing from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York, Williams said he thinks larger-than-normal volume could hit later in the deal.
“I think there will be a lot of later cabbage,” Williams said in mid-October.
“We should see quite a bit of it. Everyone was late getting started in all the northern growing regions, about three weeks late. What we’re seeing is a lot of cabbage coming on when these guys should be winding down.”
Heavy rains helped produce larger-than-normal volumes of larger-sized cabbage and fewer mediums, Williams said. He said buyers should expect difficulties finding mediums, 16-18 count cabbage, through November.
Though he called Georgia’s deal favorable through most of the summer, Williams said the Florida deal was difficult in terms of grower prices.
He said he’s hearing Florida acreage could increase by a small amount and said he expects growers to bring steady supplies throughout the season.
In September, markets hit $10 before declining to $8-9 in early October.
In mid-October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported 50-pound cartons of medium green cabbage from New York selling for $8 with large at $5.50-7. The USDA reported 50-pound sacks of large green cabbage selling for $2.50-3.
Last year in mid-October, the USDA reported $9-9.50 for 50-pound cartons of medium green cabbage from New York, with 50-pound sacks of large green cabbage garnering $6-7.
Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., Cheriton, Va., characterized early fall cabbage markets as decent. He said he expects to start his Florida production in early December, after Georgia begins in early November.
“I have to feel like the markets will stay good,” Cullen said in early October.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of production planted, so the markets should stay rather strong. A lot of people have had some rough years in production. They’re having higher commodity prices with cotton, tobacco and some have switched out of produce to those items.”
Georgia’s fall deal typically runs through Christmas, overlapping with Florida production.
Adam Lytch, operations manager for Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc., characterized the market as steady.
“I have a feeling we will probably be in store for a good fall,” he said in late October.
“I think there will be fewer acres because last fall, everybody really got hurt by that early December freeze, which really affected Georgia’s yields.
This spring, it got so hot so fast in May that the cabbage burned. We had two back-to-back bad deals between this spring and the prior fall. We really hope to have a decent year with some decent prices.”
Lytch said prices were low, quoting $4-6 on 50-pound cartons. He said that isn’t enough of a return to cover grower production investments.
L&M expects to start its Florida production in late December.
Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, expects to have its Wilson Farms-branded cabbage in late December.
“The cabbage season was a good one last year,” said Bryan Biederman, Pioneer’s assistant sales manager.
“The December freezes didn’t affect our cabbage, though central and north Florida were hurt. That made for a hot market.”
Biederman said Wilson Farms plans to grow on similar acreage this season.
Hearne began cabbage planting in early October and Williams said plantings should continue through January.
South Florida’s cabbage deal usually runs through May while the Palatka deal typically ends in mid-April.