Canadian greenhouse produce production ramps up

03/08/2012 11:21:00 AM
Susie Cable

Greenhouse crops throughout North America are progressing on schedule as production shifts from Mexico to Canada for many shippers.

There is some overlap as Leamington, Ontario-based JemD Farms’ Mexican production dwindles and its Canadian production ramps up, said Jim DiMenna, president.

JemD grows greenhouse vegetables in Ontario, while its Numaran, Mexico-based partner, Agricola El Rosal SA de CV, grows vegetables in greenhouses in Mexico.

JemD markets greenhouse-grown cluster tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, seedless cucumbers and mini cucumbers, DiMenna said. JemD’s largest volume item is tomatoes, including cluster and beefsteak varieties.

The company also markets hothouse red and orange bell peppers in addition to its Artisan Series greenhouse-grown specialty produce.

Its Canada-grown produce is marketed as Golden Sun Greenhouse Vegetables, while the Mexico-grown produce is marketed as Red Sun Greenhouse Vegetables.

In late February, DiMenna said JemD’s greenhouse crops in Canada were progressing normally, and he expected good production this spring and summer. Its greenhouse crops in Mexico were producing good quality vegetables.

DiMenna said he expected to see production in Canada ramping up through early April.

By mid-April JemD’s Ontario greenhouses should be in full production, which continues until the beginning of October.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group’s Canada greenhouse production got under way in mid-February.

Its first load of organic cucumbers shipped during the week of Feb. 13, said Aaron Quon, greenhouse category director.

Among the produce Oppenheimer plans to market this spring: red, yellow and orange tomatoes on the vine; beefsteak tomatoes; cocktail tomatoes; roma tomatoes; Divemex Fair Trade Certified conventional and organic colored bell peppers; Mexico-grown slicer cucumbers; organic tomatoes, long English cucumbers and red bell peppers; and living herbs.

"Everything is on schedule," Quon said. "The first shipment (of organic cucumbers) looked really good."

He said he expects conventional and organic tomatoes and peppers to be ready for harvest in March.

Peppers are a major greenhouse vegetable crop for Oppenheimer. Its Canada-grown bell peppers are expected to be in peak production from about May through September, Quon said.

This season, Oppenheimer plans to market Canada-grown greenhouse organic red bell peppers for the first time.

Nature Fresh Farms Inc., Leamington, began harvesting greenhouse-grown seedless cucumbers, mini seedless cucumbers and beefsteak tomatoes on Feb. 15, said Jay Colasanti, sales and marketing representative.

The company expects to produce about 1.6 million cartons of beefsteak tomatoes this season. Nature Fresh expects its seedless cucumber and specialty vegetable crops to reach more than 800,000 cartons.

Colasanti said he expected colored bell peppers to be ready for harvest in early March. Nature Fresh’s largest volume crop is peppers, and it expects to ship 2.1 million cartons of peppers this season.

The company’s Amorosa cocktail tomatoes and Kiss-brand high-brix multicolored grape tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes and tomatoes on the vine should be in full production by mid-March, Colasanti said.

It expects to ship 1.6 million cartons of tomatoes on the vine.

Greenhouse vegetables also are on schedule for Kingsville, Ontario-based Mucci International Marketing Inc., said Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing.

Its Canada-grown cucumbers are in production year-round, although volumes are typically lower in November and December. Cluster tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes and peppers were expected to be ready for harvest in mid- to late March.

"The crops look good," Spano said. "We’re happy so far."

Spano said Mucci expects to ship volumes of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers similar to last year’s.

During an average week, it ships 70,000 to 100,000 cases of peppers, 60,000 to 75,000 cases of beefsteak tomatoes, 40,000 to 60,000 cases of tomatoes on the vine, and 70,000 to 80,000 cases of cucumbers, he said.

Prices were "a little depressed" because there was a lot of volume in the market in late February, Spano said. DiMenna also said tomato prices were "quite low" in February because of a large supply of tomatoes in the market.

Greenhouse vegetables were in production from all growing regions, and DiMenna said he expected prices to remain low until production transitioned from Mexico to Canada.

"I expect markets to remain at lower-than-comfortable levels," he said.

On March 5, greenhouse one-layer flats of vine-ripes 22-32s crossings from Mexico through Nogales, Ariz., received $4.95-7. On March 1, 2011, one-layer flats of vine-ripe greenhouse tomatoes 22-32s crossings from Mexico through Nogales received $16.95.

Quon said he expects demand for greenhouse vegetables to stay relatively flat, and prices likely will be "fairly stable."

"Consumption (of greenhouse vegetables) is up only slightly," Quon said.

"It could put some pressure on pricing."



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