Michigan Produce business updates

06/06/2012 02:21:00 PM
Andy Nelson

Greiner Farms adds fruit orchard acreage

Hart, Mich.-based Todd Greiner Farms added 350 acres of fruit orchards and open land for row crops this season, giving the asparagus specialist a total of 1,500 fruit and vegetable acres, said Tyler Hodges, the company’s sales manager.

The purchase is the company’s largest in several years, Hodges said.

“We’re always looking to grow in manageable steps.”

However, Hodges said he doubts whether the company will be able to harvest many, if any, apples, cherries or peaches on the new land after a devastating late-April freeze.

Greiner Farms also bought 70 acres of asparagus land in the past year. The first harvest on the land is expected in 2014, Hodges said.

The company also is looking forward to the sophomore season for its Hillsdale, Mich., watermelon deal, Hodges said.

“It goes well with our pumpkins,” he said. “There are some watermelons from Indiana and other states, but the main state at that time is Texas, and we think there are some opportunities.”

Greiner Farms expects to ship watermelons from early August to about Sept. 10.

Freeze likely to end Greg Orchards’ season

The devastating freeze at the end of April wiped out most tree fruit crops in southwest Michigan, and as a result, once Benton Harbor, Mich.-based Greg Orchards & Produce Inc. finishes packing 2011-2012 fruit, it likely will shut down for the year, general manager Barry Winkel said.

“Hopefully next year we’ll be back in the game,” Winkel said. “You have to make the best of it. It hasn’t sunk in yet for a lot of people.”

It’s not just area growers, but also their workers and employees at packers such Greg Orchards who will be affected by the industry shutdown, Winkel said. Service providers in trucking, chemicals, fertilizers, equipment and all other ancillary industries that serve agriculture also will feel the pain. And unlike growers, no one else along the supply chain has insurance to protect them from such disasters, Winkel said.

Still, Winkel is confident the industry will bounce back.

“If it happened two years in a row, you’d see a lot of changes,” he said. “But we’ve always had customers. They come back. People who are trying to make money don’t hold a vendetta, especially on something like this, where it’s nobody’s fault.”

Hearty Fresh adds salesman/buyer


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