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Flavor 1st manages Florida, Georgia and Carolinas seasons to ensure supply

Flavor 1st Growers & Packers in Hendersonville, NC, is keeping a close eye on its crop timing. The company is managing its Florida, Georgia and Carolinas plantings carefully to make sure there are no overlaps or gaps in its product supply.

“We’re trying to close that window [following the Georgia spring crop] a little bit and grow more and more stuff in the Carolinas earlier,” said co-owner Brian Rose.

After brutal weather hit the company’s Florida crop in December and January, it recovered nicely and dovetailed with the Georgia crop; a similar pattern is expected with the transition from the Georgia deal to the Carolinas deal. Growing conditions in all those areas have been close to perfect this spring.

“Everything’s looking good up here,” Mr. Rose said. “We’ve got our first couple of plantings in the ground, and we’ll start picking in South Carolina in June, which will bridge that gap for us until mid-July, when we’ll start picking in North Carolina.”

Flavor 1st is a grower, packer, shipper and repacker specializing in vine-ripened tomatoes, corn and a full line of Southern vegetables — cucumbers, squash, bell and specialty chili peppers, okra, eggplant, squash, cabbage, and snap beans — for grocery store chains, wholesalers and open-air fresh markets.

Flavor 1st’s Mountain Bean Growers Inc. is one of the larger production houses in western North Carolina, and it manages farm operations in that state as well as South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The company also has farms in Alabama. Produce items are often picked and shipped the same day.

The company does not handle gas-green tomatoes — nor does it have gassing facilities. Instead, it focuses on hothouse tomatoes, hothouse vine-ripes, cherry tomatoes on-the-vine, seedless cucumbers, yellow and orange tomato clusters, and tri-colored “stoplight” peppers in pre-packs. Packs and sizes are customized per individual order.

“All the Carolinas crops look really, really good right now. We’re hoping and praying for a dry summer,” Mr. Rose said. “I think we’re setting up right for a good season. It depends on if we can keep the big rains out of here or a hurricane. We can’t control Mother Nature, but as long as we don’t get hit with some of that stuff, we’re looking forward to a good summer.”

Mr. Rose expects exceptionally strong demand for Flavor 1st corn this season. “This winter, the corn really got affected by the cold, and there really wasn’t a good option. I think people are hungry for corn, and you’re going to see good demand.”