Growers say summer crop could be two weeks late

06/07/2013 03:05:00 PM
Jim Offner

Drought and an unseasonably warm spring defined the runup to the 2012 Ohio vegetable season, and this year’s preparations have brought a bit of everything, vegetable growers say.

“We started out wet, and now we’re dry — one extreme to the next,” said Loren Buurma, co-owner of Willard, Ohio-based Buurma Farms Inc.

The National Weather Service’s station at Columbus, Ohio, reported 12.2 inches of snow from March through May, compared to just a trace during the same period in 2012 and 5.3 inches normally.

Total precipitation since March 1 was 8.2 inches, less than the 10.7 of 2012 and less than the 9.9 average.

Playing catch up

Buurma said crops were, on average, about two weeks behind schedule.

But he said he isn’t concerned.

“If we get decent weather from here out, we’ll catch up, but items like the radishes and, after that, some cilantro and mustard greens, they’ll probably be a little a bit later than where we were last year,” he said.

Later items, such as sweet corn, cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash, still have time to catch up, weather permitting, Buurma said.

Don Bettinger, president of Bettinger Farms Inc., Swanton, Ohio, said his crops are coming along well.

“As far as the vegetables, everything looks good,” he said, adding that corn was planted with no problems.

“The corn is all looking good,” he said at the end of May.

Frost interrupted some planting activity at Urbana, Ohio-based Michael Farms, said Scott Michael, president.

“We kept planting, but it should be good for corn in the second week of July,” he said. “We almost lost a lot of stuff last year.”

Growing weather

Rain had been scant in the weeks preceding Memorial Day, Michael said.

“We haven’t had a lot of precipitation the last month, but go up north of us, and they’ve had quite a bit of rain at times,” he said.

Ben Wiers, president of Willard-based Wiers Farm Inc., said all was well in late May.

“We’ve had good conditions, a good balance of sunlight and moisture,” he said.

Crops likely would be within a couple of days of normal, he said.

“It can catch up in a hurry with the weather in Ohio,” he said.

Drought conditions that had persisted a year ago had all but vanished this spring in many growing areas across the U.S., and they certainly had dissipated in Ohio, Wiers said.

“We had a lot of heat early, and it was a very difficult situation, but this year looks more like a combination, which is beneficial in terms of the yields and the quality of the crop,” he said.

All told, everything turned out OK last year, so there’s no reason to think this year will be any worse, Wiers said.

“We had a fair amount of product. It’s just unfortunate that you had a situation where the prices were lower than you anticipate,” he said.

“All in all, we were satisfied with it, but we anticipate a better year this year.”

First crops

Wiers said he expected to be shipping greens and green onions by mid-June. Radishes got underway after Memorial Day.

“Then, we add more items to the varieties we grow, the peppers, and we get those at the end of July and summer squash in early July,” he said, adding that hard squashes and pumpkins follow.

Growers were itching to get the deal going, said Frank Cangemi, owner/buyer of Miles Farmers Market in Solon, Ohio.

“Everybody’s looking forward to it due to the simple fact that consumers, more than ever, are taking Ohio-grown and locally grown, and it seems more farms are geared toward that direction,” he said.



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