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R.C. Hatton Farms stays true to Florida

By
Seth Mendelson

Having a bit more patience with produce from Florida should pay off nicely, according to officials at R.C. Hatton Farms. In fact, what started out as a relatively light season probably due to some rainy and cold weather in the state over the winter months, could turn into a very strong one come late April and May and the industry should be prepared.

R.C. Hatton Farms knows about Florida weather only too well. The Pahokee, FL-based company has a long and successful history of producing a large number of different produce items in the Sunshine State. Founded during the depths of the depression in 1932 by Robert C. Hatton along the fertile eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee, the company has blossomed into a major player in such segments as sweet corn, sugarcane, green beans and cabbage.

In fact, today, R.C. Hatton Farms encompasses more than 12,000 acres of agricultural land and has moved beyond its south Florida roots into southern Georgia in 2004. “This expansion underscores R.C. Hatton Inc.’s commitment to growth and diversification, ensuring a legacy of agricultural excellence that transcends borders and generations,” the company said on its website. “Today, R.C. Hatton Farms stands as a testament to the spirit of perseverance, innovation and stewardship, embodying a commitment to excellence that spans generations.”

Company officials hope that this is just the start of things. “We want to continue to grow, harvest and pack veggies to feed our country, increasing our growing capacity to do so,” said Paul Allen, a co-owner of the company along with Roger Hatton, who passed away in 2022.

Obvioiusly, Florida has played a huge role in the company’s success. R.C. Hatton has an 8,000-acre farm located in the heart of othe Everglades Agricultural Ara (EAA), a region known for its rich, muck soils suited ideally for agriculture. Company officials say it is a mosaic of fields, canals and wetlands that are carefully managed to sustain both “agricultural productivity and environmental integrity.”

It also creates a fantastic environment for Hatton to operate within, both for cultivating its products and protecting the environment. “As stewards of this land, we recognize the importance of responsible stewardship and sustainable practices,” the company said on its website.

“Through innovative techniques and conservation efforts, we strive to balance the demands of agriculture with the imperative of environmental preservation, ensuring that future generations may continue to reap the benefits of this remarkable landscape.”

But Allen and the entire organization is keenly aware that to keep the company humming along at the right pace, putting money back into the business to stay ahead of the competition is vital. “We continue to invest into technology to try to be on the cutting edge,” he said. “Drones for pesticide apps is one of them.”

Allen is quite hopeful for a solid spring season. “Our green beans through the winter have been really good,” he said. “My son Jonathan took over the growing aspect of our corn and beans and he has really made a big difference with these categories.”

What is going to drive business during the rest of 2024 and, perhaps, into 2025 and beyond? “Bulk retailers on ad during volume times,” said Allen. “The sweet corn industry depends on this.” 

Allen, who joined the company in 1984 and learned much from founder Roger Hatton in his first few years at Hatton Farms, is extremely optimistic about the future of the company. That is particularly true with Jonathan, who joined the company full-time in 2005, now running the vegetable production.

“It looks great,” he said. “I have always been into working with the transition to the next generation for any entity I have been involved with, and it is no different with our own company.”

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