(Oct. 28) BELLE GLADE, Fla. — With much of the Sunshine State’s sweet corn, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and citrus destroyed, shippers said they weren’t certain where buyers will be able to source product.

Grower-shippers said it was too early to say how high prices would climb or if Mexico would be able to fill the void left by Florida.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, tomato shipments were decreasing in U.S. growing regions except for Florida before the hurricane hit. Bell pepper shipments were expected to increase by mid-November in California’s Coachella Valley.

Fried De Schouwer, vice president of sales and marketing for Greenhouse Produce Co. LLC, Mission, Texas, said green peppers had more than doubled to $20 a bushel after the storm and hothouse colored bells and hothouse tomatoes prices also were increasing.

Jay Taylor, president of Taylor & Fulton Inc, Palmetto, and an owner of Tomato Man Inc., Immokalee, said buyers need to remember that Florida will only be reduced in volume, not eliminated.

C&D Fruit & Vegetable Co. Inc., Bradenton, has a Honduras deal, but the region was in the target of tropical storm Beta, which became a hurricane Oct. 27.

“Everyone is worried about Thanksgiving, which is a big vegetable push time,” said Tom O’Brien, president of C&D. “It’s very tough for us to stick our necks out and say we will have product by the third week of November.”

While a few tomatoes continue to be shipped out of California and Mexico, round reds were especially short because heavy rains decreased Virginia and North Carolina production.

Jeff Williams, president of Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. Inc., Salisbury, Md., which operates seasonally from Wimauma, said he expected buyers to look to the West.

While importers said they were eager to fill the gap, supplies could be limited. Brooks Lisenbey, sales manager for Arkansas Tomato Shippers LLC, Nogales, Ariz., said heat and disease forced some Mexican growers to replant. He said many growers expected to have 75% of a crop and were running a month late.

Staff writer Pamela Riemenschneider contributed to this article.