Florida finds niche in tropicals

Florida’s climate allows it to produce tropical fruits and vegetables that few places in the United States can.

Just the name of Brooks Tropicals, LLC in Homestead, highlights its focus: the grower-shipper is about everything tropical and home to a diverse lineup of fruit in the category. The firm grows as much as possible in Florida—along the east coast in fields just south of Miami and on an island west of Fort Myers on the state’s western coast.

Mary Ostund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals, BB #:110555 says the state’s tropical season begins “in May with passion fruit, dragon fruit, and, of course, lychees starting the procession.”

Next up, she notes, “June heralds in our SlimCados [a proprietary lower-fat avocado variety], with starfruit not far behind.”

Jackfruit and mamey are both harvested throughout the summer, while the state’s dragon fruit, passion fruit, and starfruit produce varying yields through winter. Although Ostlund concedes the lychee season is rather short, it nonetheless creates “a big splash” with “customers who are very eager to enjoy the fruit while the gettin’ is good.”

Charles LaPradd, agricultural manager for Miami-Dade County, confirms plenty of demand for tropicals, “especially the lesser known tropical fruits—there have been significant increases in market share of dragon fruit, pitahaya, and some of the other Asian crops.”

This is a multi-part spotlight feature on Florida produce adapted from the October 2019 issue of Produce Blueprints.