Florida fall produce shipments are building in volume and it is shaping up to be a relatively normal shipping season.
Sweet corn, leafy greens, peppers and other fall-winter crops are just getting underway and light volumes of strawberries started in early November.
Florida ships a wide variety of products in a relatively tight geographic area and is in full swing in fall and winter when most of the rest of the U.S. is dormant although the Sunshine State’s biggest volume is typically in April and May.
Lipman Family Farms of Immokalee, FL., grows vegetables and tomatoes in Florida’s open fields but also in greenhouses in Nebraska, Canada and Mexico.
In November 2019, Florida’s strawberries were just getting started, shipping 2.2 million pounds compared with California’s 69.5 million pounds.
But Florida stepped in December with 31.6 million pounds as California started its dip with 20.5 million.
Mexico, however, shipped 19.3 million pounds into the U.S. in November and 44.7 million pounds in December.
Wish Farms of Plant City, FL., will begin strawberry shipments in late November and ramp up volume in December in time for the holidays.
Florida has little, if any, domestic competition for its sweet corn crop in the fall and winter.
The USDA notes 24.5 million pounds of corn were shipped from Florida in November 2019, compared to 3.7 million pounds from Southern California and 8.4 million pounds from Georgia — the only other two states that ship corn in November.
In 2019, Florida was the only state shipping corn in December and earlier in the year, January through March.
As far as imports, Mexico shipped 7.4 million pounds of corn in November 2019, then surpassing Florida in December, with 19.3 million pounds compared to Florida’s 17.8 million.
Scotlynn Sweet Pac Growers has sweet corn in Belle Glade, FL, Bainbridge, GA., and Vittoria. but its Georgia crop was dealt a blow by the weather.
Florida is also a big cucumber state. For the fall-winter seasons, they start trickling into the market in August, get going in September and peak in November.
In November 2019, the state shipped 21.3 million pounds of cucumbers, which is 2.5 times more than the only other state growing enough commercially to be listed — Georgia at 7.4 million pounds.
In December, Florida was the only state in the U.S. shipping cucumbers.
However, Mexico shipped 95 million pounds of cucumbers into the U.S. in November 2019, more than four times as many as Florida did.
Seald Sweet International/Greenyard USA markets fruit for Hunt Bros. Citrus, handling Florida grapefruit, oranges and tangerines with a packing house in Lake Wales.
A slight dip in volume is expected compared to last year in oranges and grapefruit.
The USDA forecast the 2020-21 Florida orange crop — 96 percent which is processed for juice — to be down 15 percent from last season.
And Florida’s grapefruit production, 40 percent of which is sold fresh, is estimated to drop by 7.3 percent compared with last season.