After a challenging spring that played havoc with planting schedules, Quebec’s root vegetable growers were delighted with their long, fairly dry fall, which bodes well for winter storage.
“The fall was exceptional, almost perfect,” said Pierre Dolbec, director of development and marketing for Sherrington-based Veg Pro International Inc.
Veg Pro’s carrots and onions weren’t as abundant as last year’s, Dolbec said, but both crops are of very good quality.
“We expect to have carrots in storage until the end of January and storage onions until next year’s crop,” he said.
After modernizing its carrot plant last year, Veg Pro refitted its onion plant this year with new packaging and sorting equipment.
“Our onions are now pre-sized before they go into storage,” Dolbec said.
“Everything’s segregated so we can choose exactly what we’re going to pack and have better control of our inventory.”
Good fall weather also helped the 14 root growers making up Sherrington-based Groupe Vegco Inc.
Though the harvest was later than usual, the co-op now has 30,000 boxes of onions in storage plus normal to above quality carrots that should last until February or March, said account manager Charlene Newton.
Both roots are being packed in redesigned packages with traceable wineglass labels.
Trading has been active and prices steady for Vegco’s Quebec and New England customers, Newton said in mid-November.
“Normally we see prices come down once everyone finishes harvesting,” she said, “but that didn’t happen this season.”
Vegco is offering celery root, parsnips and garlic for the first time, along with 2-pound packages of its new golden and candy-cane chiogga beets.
GNC Farms Inc. in St-Lin des Laurentides offers a 2-pound stand-up zip-top pouch of specialty beets.
Guillaume Henri, vice president sales and marketing, said he finished harvesting cabbage and root crops Nov. 12.
Though GNC didn’t seed more rutabagas and parsnips, Henri said the yield and quality were higher this year.
“We’re really happy with the harvest and we’re crossing our fingers that the crops store well,” Henri said.
“We store them in the best conditions but you never know.”
He noted that parsnip consumption in Quebec increased 42% between 2000 and 2011.
Potato, carrot and onion grower Mario Isabelle, vice president of St. Remi-based C. Isabelle and Sons, said his good potato crop should last until next summer.
Red potatoes are increasingly popular with their white interior and sweet taste, said Isabelle, but demand for yellow-fleshed potatoes is picking up as more Quebecers and Americans discover their great taste and versatility.
In onions, which he sells to Vegco, Isabelle said reds are becoming more popular but he’s always on the lookout for new red varieties that are better suited to Quebec’s cool climate.