The Florida cucumber season has just begun, with some areas in harvest and some gradually ramping up. The lack of hurricane or other tropical storm activity in Central and South Florida has meant that growing conditions have been ideal in those areas. As a result, growers are optimistic about the months ahead.
"The cucumber season has been going for about ten days," said Troy Bennett of VeggiFruit. "It's mostly coming out of Central Florida at this time, with a small amount starting out of Immokalee. Growing conditions have been spot on and therefore, we don't expect to have any issues on quality or supplies. We have not been affected by any storms this year, unlike last year when hurricane activity destroyed many crops."
At the moment, prices for Florida cucumbers are strong. This is a reflection of the lack of significant volume in some other parts, as well as the fact that Mexico is hit and miss at the moment when it comes to supply. Production in Mexico has been affected by heavy rains there, but once it gets going, it will be more difficult for Florida growers to compete.
"Right now we are seeing an unusual push," Bennett observed. "Cucumber prices in Florida for 'Super' grade are around $20, while 'Select' is at $12. Markets in Nogales and McAllen have opened up at $12 for Super and $9 for Select. This will provide a tough challenge for Florida to compete, because quality from Mexico right now is pretty good. However, Mexico has had bad weather affecting production, and this is where Florida might see a good market."
Despite the competition from Mexico, Florida growers remain positive overall and expect to have a good cucumber season, with decent quality and good yields already showing. Bennett noted that packaging styles have been trending towards pouch bags. "Everybody is getting into the pouch bags," he said. "It's the way stores are going."
Bennett added that in a couple of months, cucumber production in Honduras will also enter the market. This is a comparatively small producing region, but it has seen excellent growth the last couple of years. "We should have cucumbers coming from Honduras from January," he said. "Quality has been outstanding from this region and we expect to have an increase in production out of Honduras in the order of ten percent."