Weather postpones New York vegetables

06/23/2011 09:18:00 AM
Doug Ohlmeier

Buyers should expect big delays and shortages of New York vegetables this summer, after spring rains pushed back planting and harmed early production.

Grower-shippers say harvests of vegetables, including sweet corn, green beans, bell peppers, cucumbers and cabbage could be delayed by up to 10-14 days.

New York’s summer deals typically begin in mid- to late July, but torrential April and May rains kept growers out of the fields.

Jason Turek, partner in Turek Farms, King Ferry, N.Y., which grows corn, beans, cabbage and squash, said the rains delayed planting to May 8, an 18-day delay.

“We had standing water in our fields for 10 days,” he said. “Where there was standing water, we will have damage. The quality won’t be off but we’ll have big holes in the fields.”

In late June, Turek said he expects corn to be a struggle until sometime in August. While corn and beans normally begin harvesting in mid-July, Turek said growers in the Finger Lakes region in the western part of the state likely won’t hit their stride until mid- to late August.

Maureen Marshall, vice president of Torrey Farms Inc., Elba, N.Y., said some product will be lost.

“We expect a 10%-20% loss on the early crop of squash, cucumbers and beans,” Marshall said. “It could be higher. This will be an interesting summer.”

Marshall said the deal 10-15 days late. Once growers get going, however, she said she expects quality and supplies to fare well.

Tony Piedimonte, owner of James J. Piedimonte & Sons Inc., & Anthony J. Piedimonte/Cabbco, Holley, N.Y., (which markets for Wimauma, Fla.-based Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC), said fields never dried during planting.

“Things are stacking up to be a crazy July,” he said in late June. “Pricing looks to be very short for July. Early parts of the deal will be short because some things didn’t get planted.  Or growers had plantings that got beat-up.”

Piedimonte, who grows beans, cabbage, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes, said he expects volume to return to normal in August.

Eric Hansen, vice president of Hansen Farms LLC, Stanley, N.Y., said the delay should kill chances for cabbage growers hitting the state’s normal window.

“We will get all our acres in, but we’ll miss our early July timeframe,” he said in late June. “We generally don’t miss that, so it will hurt.”

New York vegetable volume normally runs through late September and early October.



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