STATESBORO, Ga. — While Georgia is known for its peaches, watermelon and Southern vegetables such as bell peppers, cucumbers and squash, the state also grows and ships carrots throughout the winter and spring.

Carrot deal brings winter and spring volume

Doug Ohlemeier

Workers grade carrots on the packing line in late February at Gerrald's Vidalia Sweet Onions Inc., Statesboro, Ga.
Georgia produces carrots through the winter and spring.

Gerrald's Vidalia Sweet Onions Inc. began carrot harvesting in early January, about a month later than one of the other major Georgia grower-shippers.

Blackwater Produce LLC, Lake Park, the sales agent for Coggins Farm and Produce Inc., started its production Dec. 1.

“We have a steady deal,” said Harry Sheaffer, Blackwater salesman. “The deal is getting a little tighter, and there’s more interest in it now, which is typical for this time of the year.”

Sheaffer said growers were fighting some issues related to freezing temperatures that struck the growing region in January.

Though the cold affected yields, Sheaffer said the colder temperatures didn’t hurt the quality of the crop being harvested.

Jamie Brannen, Gerrald's sales manager, said volume picks up in mid- to late February.

As Canadian production begins winding down in late winter, Georgia’s regional deal begins strengthening.

“Though we have had unusual rains this year, we have had a good climate,” Brannen said. “The carrots don’t mind the cold as much as the rain.”

Brannen said last season produced a strong deal despite unfavorable growing season weather that included freezing temperatures.

He said it rained too much and growers fought the excessive moisture throughout the season.

Gerrald’s has been in the carrot deal for five years.

Brannen and Sheaffer say California, the largest carrot-producing state, normally determines prices.

Sheaffer quoted $13 for 48 1-pound film bags of medium-large carrots in sacks.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in late April reported 48 1-pound film bags in sacks medium-large and 50-pound sacks loose jumbo and 50-pound sacks loose jumbo selling for $12.85-13.40 from California’s Kern distric.

Saying it didn’t want to disclose acreage for individual operations, the USDA has discontinued publishing Georgia-specific carrot acreage information.

Combining the state in with Colorado and Washington in its 2009 estimates, the USDA reports the three states planted 5,000 acres that year.

In 2001 and 2002, the last year the USDA broke out Georgia production, the USDA said Georgia on average produced 882 cwt. of carrots from an average 3,100 planted acres.