The Wm. Manis Co. in Plant City, FL, has expanded its homegrown program this season, adding fall watermelons, mini seedless watermelons, green peppers, squash, eggplant and cabbage to its farming operation in Arcadia, FL.
“Those are new items for us,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Rick Sullivan. “We’ve always wanted to get into those items. One of our watermelon growers wanted to expand those items and it was just a good program we put together. We’ve dabbled in some of those things, but we’re kind of taking the bull by the horns this year.”
The farm and accompanying warehouse in Wauchula, FL, are Primus Labs-certified, and early indications are that the first crop from the new program will be outstanding, according to Mr. Sullivan.
“It’s exciting,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We’ve been selling the product and we’ve been very happy with the quality — extremely happy with the quality. We had a little rough weather a few weeks ago with the rain, but we’ve gotten past that.”
Manis’s Florida-grown vegetable program will go “through the better part of December, and the cabbage will go all the way into next spring,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We have to have that for St. Patrick’s Day.”
Meanwhile, Manis is ramping up for its Florida strawberry season. Early results “quality wise and weather wise” have been encouraging and Mr. Sullivan said that he expects an excellent crop.
“We’ve had a few showers, that’s been a pain in the butt, but we’ve gotten through it. Right now we’re really enjoying this weather and so is the farm and the grower,” Mr. Sullivan said.
While the Wm. Manis Co. has a 12-month program, this is undoubtedly its busiest time of the year, which suits Mr. Sullivan just fine.
“We have our own sweet onion deal out of Peru and out own Vidalia onion deal, now we’ve expanded into our Florida vegetables and we hope to expand that even more in the next season. And we’ll be very heavily involved in strawberries for the next several weeks,” he said.
Not all of the improvements at Manis have come in the field. The company recently installed a new server to upgrade its computer systems and is updating other equipment as well.
The Wm. Manis Co. has been growing, shipping, selling and marketing produce for a half-century, sending fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean to supermarket chains, foodservice suppliers, terminal market wholesalers and offshore receivers.
The company is a leading marketer of watermelons, Athena cantaloupes, citrus, strawberries, import specialties, Southern vegetables, and fruits of the Pacific Northwest, and also imports melons, asparagus and other offshore items enabling customized mixed loads as customers need.