Major Ontario grower-shipper Scotlynn Group has planted 260 acres of asparagus in former pumpkin fields, with an expected harvest of up to 100,000 cases in 2015.
The Vittoria-based company plans to plant another 210 acres of asparagus next year, said Joe Didiano, director of sales and new business development.
“We want to take advantage of strong demand during the Ontario local season and healthy markets in the U.S. and Canada,” said Didiano.
He said the move will keep crews busy early in the season.
Scotlynn has also planted 100 more acres of watermelons in Vittoria for a total of 500. That includes 50 new acres of miniature seedless watermelons weighing 4-7 pounds.
“We had a fantastic watermelon season last year, and yields were higher than anticipated,” said Didiano, who expects to begin harvesting around July 18.
Corn, Scotlynn’s biggest Ontario crop, is up 600 acres to 4,100 acres this year to supply product to the company’s year-old line of Sweetpac tray corn.
Some corn was affected a bit by frost, Didiano said, but he expects harvest to begin in mid-July.
The market for bicolor corn is strong, he said, and he’s had several requests for white corn.
Numbers on pumpkins were off last year after an October frost, but he said demand is very strong across North America and Scotlynn has planted 10 new acres of pie pumpkins.
A new office in Oakville, just west of Toronto, will be closer to customers and provide a better base for employees on the freight side, he said.
Scotlynn Sweetpac USA, which manages 4,000 of acres of sweet corn in Florida, has purchased and updated a 50,000-square-foot facility in Belle Glade to pack, pre-cool and ship product.
Sweetpac brand watermelons grown on 300 acres of leased land this winter in Florida worked out well, he said, but cool weather led to yields 40% lighter than expected.
“We had good customer demand and we’ll do it again,” he said.