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Florida squash recovering after being hit by Irma

Despite suffering the effects of Hurricane Irma, Florida squash growers are looking at a solid summer crop.

“We lost 100 per cent of the squash in the hurricane so while we’re on time with our summer squash, our winter squash will be a little late because we lost everything in the ground,” says Steve Veneziano of Naples, Fl.-based Oakes Farms Inc. “We replanted hard squash five days after the hurricane. So we’ll miss the Thanksgiving run but we’ll be there for Christmas.”

Right now, Oakes is harvesting its summer squash from Immokalee, Fl. and are about a month away from the winter squash harvest. (In total, Oakes grows 700 acres of zucchini, 300 acres of yellow squash, 200 acres of Acorn Squash and 275 acres of Kabocha Squash in south Florida.) “The squash look great,” says Veneziano. “We’ve really changed some of the ways of our farming practises---just a couple secrets with our growing practises to rebuild that soil health. We’re making large investments towards building it and it’s paying off.”

The current squash volume is similar to 2016’s levels. “It is starting to tighten up a bit right now, especially in yellow squash—especially with the white fly damage in Georgia,” says Veneziano.

New variety 
Oakes also planted, for the first time, almost 350 acres of Orangetti squash—an orange type of spaghetti squash created in Israel that’s smaller than the yellow but tastes similar, almost even sweeter thanks to a higher BRIX (sugar) level. The squash, which Oakes is the exclusive growers for in Florida, is only available to Oakes’ program-based customers (Oakes also has a waiting list for the Orangetti). “This personally is one of my favorite new items in our Seed to Table line up,” says Veneziano. “The taste is phenomenal!”

Meanwhile pricing, says Veneziano, is middle of the road. “For the most part zucchini is $16 for the ½ bushels and for the ¾ bushels, it’s in the $20 price range on yellow squash,” says Veneziano. “The prices are just average but last year around this time, they started a bit lower. This year they’re starting off better.”

For more information:
Steve Veneziano
Oakes Farms Inc.
Tel: 239-658-0924

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