For the second year in a row, crops in Washington’s Skagit Valley are behind their traditional schedule because of cool, wet conditions.
“Everything is quite late because of the weather conditions,” said Dale Hayton, sales manager for Valley Pride Sales Inc., Mount Vernon, Wash.
“While the rest of the country is burning up, we’ve been cooler than normal.”
Hayton said the valley received twice as much rain as normal in July.
“Basically it was cold and wet in the spring, and you couldn’t get any ground planted,” he said.
“Once we did plant, we had cool and damp conditions. It’s taking longer than normal for crops to mature. It’s been a battle on the front end of the deal.”
Hayton isn’t complaining. He said the conditions have been ideal for potatoes.
“We expect to have nice quality potatoes and good yields,” he said.
They just won’t be on time.
Vice president Dean Cunningham said Washington Lettuce & Vegetable Co., Mount Vernon, likely will start its potato harvest after Labor Day. That’s three weeks later than usual.
“Potatoes love cool weather and hold their color better in cool weather,” said Cunningham, whose company ships white, yellow and red varieties.
“We’ve had a very cold summer. I think we’ll have the best quality we’ve had in 20 years. I think right now the potatoes look better than I’ve ever seen them. What we really need is an Indian summer. We need an excellent fall. We’re going to be digging potatoes all the way to Thanksgiving.”
Cunningham said potato harvest typically ends in late October, and storage supplies usually last into at least mid-April.
“We store so many reds and whites, we’ll probably run three weeks later next year,” he said.
Marketing and sales manager Cliff Corwin said Skagit Valley’s Best Produce Inc., Mount Vernon, expects to start its potato harvest in mid-September with reds, and white and yellow varieties should follow by late September. He said he didn’t expect volumes to be affected by the cool, wet weather.
Cunningham said Washington Lettuce & Vegetable started its broccoli harvest a few weeks late in mid-July. He said quality is excellent, and supplies should last through October.
Valley Pride wrapped up its raspberry deal in early August, but Hayton said the company expects to ship blackberries through Oct. 20.
Hayton said cauliflower started in late August, and cucumbers are expected to start Oct. 20.
Skagit Flats Farm, Mount Vernon, started shipping lettuce — red leaf, green leaf, romaine, red and green bib — in late June, and owner Andy Ross said he expects to have supplies through mid-October.
Ross said summer squash started in late July and would run through September, while winter squash would pick up in late September and through mid-October.
He said beans — including yellow wax, purple, romano and dragon tongue — began in early August and should run through September.