Doug OhlemeierWorkers at Eastern Fresh Growers Inc., Cedarville, N.J., grade asparagus May 1. New Jersey grower-shippers are seeing earlier than normal starts for many vegetables, including asparagus and lettuce. CEDARVILLE, N.J. — Favorable winter and spring weather is pushing asparagus and other Garden State vegetables way ahead of schedule.
Asparagus is one of the state’s early vegetable crops, and some growers began harvesting weeks ago.
Eastern Fresh Growers Inc. began asparagus production in late March, three weeks ahead of a typical mid-April start. This is the earliest the deal has started since 1942, said Tom Sheppard, president.
“Everything looks fine in the field,” Sheppard said May 1. “We had May temperatures in March. Now we’re back to seasonal May temperatures.”
Bill Nardelli, president of Nardelli Bros. Inc., said the season is starting early and said quality of lettuce and other leafy greens is high.
Nardelli said his company and others are experiencing late payments, or no payment at all, this season.
“There’s a lot of turmoil in the industry,” he said in early May. “With people not being able to hold on with the economy not being good, collecting payment is getting to be a bigger problem in all facets of business.”