Quality is excellent this season for Florida produce. That’s the outlook for the winter vegetable season out of the state. “We had quite a bit of rain early this fall but we’ve made it through that point. Some later passing fronts have helped the crops. It evens everything out and also gives it the proper moisture they need,” says Stephen S. Madonia Sr. with Chapman Fruit Company Inc. in Immokalee, Fl.
Madonia says later passing rain fronts have helped the crops. "It evens everything out and also gives it the proper moisture they need,” he says.
He notes that quality looks strong on commodities such as bell peppers, variety peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. “The rain has been beneficial. You can irrigate but it’s never the same as a nice rainfall. It has balanced everything out so far and now it’s cooling down so that’s going to help as well,” he says. That said, harvest was somewhat delayed on the specialty peppers particularly while bell peppers and tomatoes began on time. “The variety pepper seems a little behind schedule and cucumbers were also a bit off. But they’re coming on now,” Madonia says.
Florida is coming into a market that's seeing good--but not exceptional--demand for vegetables.
Madonia also notes that Chapman Fruit has stayed the same on its acreage but increased the footprint on vine-ripened tomatoes and its new Roma tomato crop.
At the same time, Florida is coming into a market that’s seen good--but not exceptional--demand. “Everything has been moving. It does slow down for a little bit after the Thanksgiving holiday,” he says. That said, Madonia remains watchful of what’s happening with freight rates across the country. “We’ll have to see how that plays out. If we have an advantage in freight, that’s going to help our markets. If you have to pay $9,000-$10,000 in freight compared to $3,500 out of Florida, I’d hope you’d buy Florida,” he says.
As for pricing, peppers had recently been softer given nearby Georgia was wrapping up with its pepper production so Madonia anticipates the market will firm up. Tomatoes started off with good pricing and are at about mid range in pricing now.
“The prices are better than last year at this time. Last year we were still dealing with COVID issues and I don’t think we had a lot of people who were farming get COVID-19 money and put a crop in so the markets weren’t that great. I don’t know if that money has been available this year for some of them so they haven’t planted the acreage,” Madonia says.
Left: Stephen Madonia Jr.; right: Stephen S. Madonia Sr.
Meanwhile there’s been a change at Chapman Fruit--Stephen Madonia Jr., a recent graduate of the University of Miami and a D1 tennis athlete, has joined the company as director of operations and sales. “Stephen Jr. grew up in the industry traveling from Florida to the Eastern shore of Virginia every summer since he was a child. He’s also been involved in our prior tomato operation for many years,” adds Stephen Sr.