BELLE GLADE, Fla. — The opening of this season’s green bean deal should be variable with supply gaps in early shipments.

Torrential rains that struck one of south Florida’s growing regions should keep prices strong, grower-shippers say.

Gary Stafford, salesman and green beans manager with Hugh H. Branch Inc., Pahokee, said he isn’t sure how much the rains could affect volume but expects the season to start with normal timing in early November.

“Plantings in Florida will be a little erratic and irregular, particularly at the start due to the heavy rains we’ve been experiencing,” he said in mid-October.

“The rains haven’t affected the start-up or the normal cycle we’re on, but it will reduce the volume somewhat as plantings will be irregular, particularly through Thanksgiving. Volume probably won’t normalize until after Thanksgiving and into the front part of December.”

Stafford said he expected a normal overlap between the end of south Georgia’s production and the start of south Florida’s.

He said Georgia should produce beans through early November with Florida simultaneously beginning light harvesting.

Gene Duff, executive vice president and general manager of Pioneer Growers Co-op, agreed that two months of heavy rains should affect early production.

“Any beans planted in the Glades muck will be affected,” he said in mid-October. “The beans should be in a little less supply than normal. There shouldn’t be any supply interruptions, though, and so far, quality looks fine.”

Duff said he expected Homestead and Belle Glade to begin production Nov. 1 and said volume typically starts rapidly.

He said he wasn’t sure how the overlap with Georgia could go, but said sometimes early November sees all three regions going simultaneously.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Oct. 30 reported mostly $15.35-17.85 for bushel cartons/crates of hand-picked and $14-14.85 for machine-picked round green beans.

Last season in late October, the USDA reported bushel cartons/crates of precooled round green beans machine picked from south Georgia selling for $17.35-18.35.

Southwest Florida is expecting to begin harvesting on time in early November, said Christian Tordonato, sales manager of Immokalee-based Florida Specialties Inc.

He said Florida Specialties’ acreage is similar to last year’s.

“The beans look good,” Tordonato said in mid-October. “The crop looks to be very solid.”