Depending on crop, growers report a good or bad season

08/06/2013 10:55:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

“The biggest drawback for this season was many people didn’t have as big a crop as they would have liked,” he says. “It was a light crop but a very good one.”

Another disastrous season for tomato growers

Florida tomato growers experienced a disastrous season in terms of weather and prices, says Tony DiMare, vice president of the DiMare Co. in Homestead.

“It was an up-and-down year,” he says. “In the winter with problems of product coming in from Mexico and renewal of the tomato suspension agreement, the Homestead deal probably had one of its better growing years in quite a while. It was one of the best crops in volume and quality. But out of that four-month window, we had only 10 days of a decent market.”

Though growers experienced a relatively dry winter through May, a late March freeze affected many spring tomato plantings in Immokalee and during the start of the Palmetto, Fla.-Ruskin, Fla. deal, DiMare says.

That aggravated the light yields the central Florida deal typically brings during its spring start, he says.

Tomato Thyme Corp. grape tomatoesTomato Thyme Corp. In early June, torrential rains associated with Tropical Storm Andrea affected the later part of the Palmetto-Ruskin deal, DiMare says.

Those downpours and other storms harmed quality and yield and prompted many growers to abandon product they couldn’t harvest, he says.

In Immokalee and southwest Florida, growers contended with high infections of tomato yellow leaf curl virus.

In the spring, incidences were as high as DiMare has seen in many years, he says.

The disease cut into large parts of the southwest Florida crop’s overall yield and volume during the opening spring window.

It also affected the early part of central Florida’s spring production in certain areas, DiMare says.

Freeze chilled early corn season 

Late spring freezes disrupted production of south Florida’s sweet corn and green beans.

Although growers experienced adequate rains and cold weather didn’t harm production throughout the winter, a March 4 freeze devastated the early part of the Belle Glade corn harvest.

Paul Allen, president of the Maitland-based Florida Sweet Corn Exchange and vice president and co-owner of R.C. Hatton Farms in Pahokee, says the cold only shortened the crop.

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