Positive start for South Florida green bean season

South Florida has just started its green bean season and growers are saying that all is well so far. Beginning in November, the season is expected to last until the end of April. The southern half of Florida has experienced excellent weather conditions, with no damaging hurricanes or other tropical storm activity that has affected many other areas.

"We grow all our vegetables within a 5 mile radius of our Homestead office," noted Wayne Mertens of Flavor 1st Growers & Packers. "Our green bean season started on November 8 which was on time compared to the long term average. We have had excellent growing weather and barring a few minor cold snaps, there have been no issues at all, providing excellent conditions for the beans."

Mertens added that production levels are good as well, with reports of strong yields coming after a slower start. "Volume is good now," he said. "Product from the first round of beans didn't come off that well, but with subsequent plantings, we are now seeing a doubling of those yields compared to the first plantings."

Market is tight
While Florida growers have made a good start and are currently enjoying strong yields, other green bean growing regions have suffered from the effects of storms and other inclement weather. As a result, overall supply is short and prices for green beans have been at a premium.

"The start of the Florida season has been greeted by a very strong market," Mertens observed. "Hurricane Michael knocked out a lot of production in Georgia and adjacent areas which has meant there is a shortage of green beans at the moment. The market has been at $32 for six to eight weeks, only dropping down to the mid $20s early this week, which is still good. There is strong demand for the Thanksgiving holiday, which is the biggest holiday for consumption of fresh produce in general."

To increase the packaging options available for retailers, Flavor 1st have begun bagging produce in retail packs. "Our company started doing some bagging for major retailers about a year ago," Mertens shared. "Some of the produce items include green beans, yellow squash and zucchini. Additionally, we have also been trying a few different varieties of some of our produce, such as squash."

Encouraging consumers to buy US-grown produce
Much of Florida's vegetable season overlaps with that of various Mexican and other offshore seasons. Florida growers say this puts them at a disadvantage when it comes to the costs of growing fresh produce. Their message to US consumers is to support US farmers by buying domestically-grown produce where possible.

"We really wish that Americans would eat more US-grown fruit and vegetables," Mertens said. "Each year, many American farmers go out of business because they simply can't compete with imports. It's not just these farmers and their family's livelihoods at stake, but as a nation we also don't want to end up relying on other other countries for all our fruit and vegetable supply. Therefore we ask that US consumers think about the produce they are buying and encourage them to support American farmers by buying US-grown produce."

For more information:
Wayne Mertens
Flavor 1st Growers & Packers, LLC
Tel: +1 (305) 247-0806
wmertens@flavor1st.com
www.flavor1st.com


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