April is typically the biggest month of the year for Florida vegetable shipments. We’re on the down side of March and volumes are building toward peak loadings. Here’s a glance at what’s happening in the Sunshine State, keeping in mind most hauls involve multiple pickups and drops.
In St. Johns County, just south of Jacksonville cabbage loadings are in full swing. The University of Florida Institute for Food and Agriculture reports some cabbage growers are doing better than others, but overall it is good.
Barnes Farms of Hastings, FL is one of the largest cabbage growers along the Eastern Seaboard, and works with several growers producing cabbage, including green, red, bok choy and Napa. Asian types of cabbage have really expanded in St. Johns County, with about 5,000 acres of Asian vegetable varieties such as bitter melon and luffa, also called Chinese okra.
Northeastern Florida potato growers started planting in January but have struggled, with a few severe thunderstorms delaying the season. About 35% of the potatoes go to the fresh market, and the rest is for chips,
Hollar and Greene Produce Co. of Boone, NC has expanded its cabbage operation this year from 1,000 acres to 1,419 at its farm just south of Hastings, in Bunnell, FL, which is still considered northeast Florida.
Cabbage is typically available in Florida from December to May,
In Central Florida closer to the west coast, early March was peak season for the 1,700 acres of strawberries at Astin Farms and the Astin Strawberry Exchange in Plant City and Wimauma, FL. Strawberry shipments normally get underway aroundcrop the end of November, lasting through early April.
Overall volume may be a bit lower this year due to the slightly slower start of the season.
Astin Farms is gearing up for blueberry season, which it will begin shipping in the coming weeks.
Alderman Farms of Boynton Beach, FL is based near the east coast with other locations throughout south and central Florida. The company grows tomatoes, kale, collards, chard, sweet corn, bell peppers, eggplant, yellow straight neck squash, zucchini and cucumbers.
Alderman ships to a lot to the Northeast, Chicago and with fewer loads headed to other parts of the Midwest. Customers include major retailers such as Publix.
Tomatoes — round slicers, grape and roma — are the biggest crop for Alderman Farms. Tomato shipments started in mid-October and should continue into May. The greens follow a similar timeline.
Alderman lost three or four plantings of sweet corn in Belle Glade in Palm Beach County because of a freeze in February. The operation experience a lot of damage to vegetables, but has since returned heavy volume.
Southwest Florida’s university extension service for Hendry, Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties, reports the region’s tomato growers should continue shipping through April or early May. Many of the growers also have additional farms in Central Florida to continue harvesting after that.
Southwest Florida snap beans loading start at the end of October and last until the beginning of May. The major counties for snap, or green beans are Hendry, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade.
The USDA reports of the state’s 27,823 acres of snap beans harvested in 2017, over 23% came from Collier and Hendry counties and 51% came from Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Immokalee’s earliest shipments will begin in mid- to late March for the spring crop, and it lasts about a month or so. There’ also is a fall crop.
Watermelon shipments also begin in March from that region.
Central and Southern Florida veggies – grossing about $3700 to New York City.