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Florida hot pepper program increases focus on Jalapenos

Supplies of Jalapeno peppers coming out of Florida look to be lighter this year. “We’re still working through the hurricane that came through Southwest Florida and still harvesting the fields that made it through the hurricane and we’re preparing to start fields that made it post-hurricane. But supply is very light everywhere here in Southwest Florida,” says Stephen S. Madonia Sr. with Chapman Fruit Company Inc.

Along with a lighter crop, Hurricane Ian also looks to have delayed things by about two weeks, which unfortunately means volumes weren’t ready for Thanksgiving pulls. Supplies will continue to ship until June 1st.

That said, the quality of the crop that is emerging looks strong. “After the hurricane, the weather came in a little cooler,” says Madonia Sr. “Some years it’s hot and humid after the hurricane. However, this year with the cooler weather, the plants responded well and whatever was in the ground came back with good yields and good quality.”

Madonia Sr. in a Jalapeno field.

Continued movement on Jalapenos predicted
Chapman Fruit has shifted its focus on growing Jalapenos only this year in terms of hot peppers and it has added to its acreage. (However its bell pepper program has stayed the same.) “We felt the market share on Hungarian Wax has waned in the last few years due to many changes. The Long Hots as well and Poblanos are sometimes preferred out of Mexico because of the size,” he says. “With input costs being higher, we just pared down to Jalapenos because it feels like we can always keep those moving. As the nation changes with demographics, there’s a big demand for them.”

Indeed demand seems to be strong for the volume that is available. The transition from Georgia product is underway though while Florida is trying to pick up that transition, the overall state volume looks to be down. “People are looking for a lot of retail sizes--the double XX and XL and jumbo pepper. But the supply isn’t sufficient,” adds Madonia Sr.

Altogether the pricing is good at between $20-$24/bushel. “We’ve seen it lower and it definitely costs more to harvest Jalapenos. They’re a small item, smaller than a Cubanelle or a Long Hot, and the cost to harvest them is higher but that quality is excellent.” He doesn’t anticipate the price to move much, though what volume of jalapenos come out of Mexico may influence that pricing.

For more information:
Stephen S. Madonia Sr.
Chapman Fruit Company Inc.
Tel: +1 (239) 657-3151   

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