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Hot pepper acreage expands in Florida

Oakes Farms started growing its chili pepper varieties three years ago on nine acres but have since expanded to grow the produce on close to 600 acres between farms in Georgia and Florida. “The chili pepper is one of our primary items,” said Steve Veneziano of Oakes Farms. “We really pack a very high-end retail quality and we have the most varieties.” They are focused on niche growing for customers who look for items that aren’t high volume -upscale, hard to find and hard to grow. “The demand is extremely strong across the board on all commodities. One of our biggest challenges is growing enough to keep up with our customer demand.” Oakes Farms sells mainly to the Midwest, New England and Canada with some customers in California. The produce is marketed under its Seed to Table brand.

Georgia’s crop faced some challenges with weather between the recent hurricane and some other local storms. Harvest started last week with light volume. “We look forward to getting into some better volume over the next couple of weeks,” said Veneziano. Crops in Florida were planted 30 days ago and harvest will begin mid November. Veneziano says last year in the Florida program there was significant price variances. Long hots hit as high as $95/box and some pricing was seen as low as $5/box. 

They have increased their overall acreage in Florida to just over 3,000, which holds a total of 61 commodities. “We’re going to continue to evolve our acreage even further to take care of our customers and service them year round with consistent volume,” said Veneziano. “We’re building ourselves as an all-in-one stop shop to make it easy for the buyers. Some of our small chains find it very easy to get 20-30 commodities from us and know they can get anything from butternut squash to green bell pepper, zucchini, shishito peppers – you name it.”

Oakes Farms will be exhibiting some new chilli varieties at the upcoming PMA Fresh summit. 

Steve Veneziano
Oakes Farms
Ph: 239.658.0924

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