Greenhouse growers expect increased production

03/15/2013 01:45:00 PM
Andy Nelson

A number of greenhouse vegetable growers expect production gains in 2013.

Langley, British Columbia-based BC Hot House Foods Inc. expects to increase its production by 13% this year, president Mike Reed said.

The boost comes from adding two growers and increasing production from two existing growers, Reed said.

BC Hot House kicked off the season with cucumbers and expects to be in full swing by the end of March with tomatoes and peppers added to the mix.

BC Hot House’s growth has been centered in western Canada and down the Interstate 5 corridor, Reed said. Increases have been fairly evenly spread between the company’s retail, club and foodservice business, he said.

The addition of Darvonda Nurseries, a new grower, boosts BC Hot House’s acreage by 10 acres. In addition to its core floral production, Darvonda grows cucumbers and tomatoes.

In addition, BC Hot House grower-partner Creekside Hot House has added a 10-acre tomato facility in South Surrey, and Bakerview Greenhouse in Abbotsford has added 11 acres of peppers.

Eatontown, N.J.-based Village Farms LP plans to ship long English cucumbers, colored bell peppers and a variety of tomato products from its three greenhouse locations in 2013, said Doug Kling, the company’s chief sales and marketing officer.

Village Farms plans to harvest on 120 acres in Texas, 110 acres in British Columbia and 12 acres in Pennsylvania, Kling said.

Kling said he expects growth in the company’s long English cucumber; grape, cherry and other cocktail tomatoes; and other greenhouse vegetable categories in 2013.

“We’re very excited about what’s coming in 2013,” Kling said. “2012 was a challenging year for everyone, regardless of country.”

It’s also an exciting time for the greenhouse vegetable industry as a whole, Kling said, not just for Village Farms — not just in terms of overall acreage, but in terms of product diversity.

“People are looking at new peppers, cucumbers, mini cucumbers, eggplant — even lettuce.”

Another trend in greenhouse-grown is meeting demand for more information among customers and consumers, Kling said.

“Retail partnerships are more critical,” he said. “How the vegetables are grown, and the environmental and social conditions.”

Madison, Maine-based Backyard Farms LLC plans to grow tomatoes on 42 acres under glass with grow lights in 2013, said Tim Cunniff, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

The company expects to ship cluster, cocktail and beefsteak tomatoes year-round, and it plans to stick with its tried-and-true Northeast regional distribution strategy, Cunniff said.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group expects to ship sweet bell peppers from its growing partner Divemex year-round from Etzatlan and Culiacan, Mexico, though in the summer the company plans to focus on conventionally grown Fair Trade certified peppers, said Aaron Quon, Oppenheimer’s greenhouse and vegetable category director.

Oppenheimer also plans to source British Columbia-grown long English cucumbers under the SunSelect and other brands year-round in 2013, Quon said.

Red, yellow and orange sweet bell peppers from British Columbia, also packed in the SunSelect label, should be available from Oppenheimer from April through November this year.

Beefsteak tomatoes are slated to ship from April through late October from British Columbia, Quon said.

Oppenheimer also expects to market greenhouse-grown organic cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes and a year-round supply of basil, cilantro, mint and parsley and seasonal supplies of lemon, red and Thai basil, dill, lemon balm, marjoram, mizuna, oregano and other herbs grown by Kitchen Pick, Quon said

Through late February, 2013 had been a fairly normal growing year in British Columbia, Quon said.

“It’s been a fairly typical late winter in BC, with temperatures slowly warming and daylight hours extending slowly but surely.”

Mike Aiton, marketing director at Prime Time International, Coachella, Calif., said his company in 2013 plans to again source greenhouse vegetables nine months out of the year, taking the summer off during peak California field production.

Prime Time grows colored bell peppers, mini sweet bells and tomatoes under glass, mesh and plastic and sources from three growing regions: mainland Mexico, Baja California and California’s Coachella Valley.

“It’s an important part of our business,” he said.

Prime Time’s greenhouse production typically has two peaks, Aiton said, with the first in November and the second in April and May. But the company’s different greenhouse growing regions don’t peak at different times.

“Our production is pretty well spread out,” he said. “We manage it so we have steady supplies. We’ve had our loose and bagged programs in place for a long time.”

Production has increased the past two years at Prime Time’s Coachella and Baja greenhouse facilities, but mainland Mexican production has remained steady, Aiton said.



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