Sales improvement can’t come soon enough for Southern produce companies

06/30/2011 02:16:00 PM
Dan Gailbraith

The state’s strawberry yields were down this season, Watson said in June, but most vegetable field crops appear to be in good condition and on schedule.

Kentucky produces a variety of vegetable crops for the fresh market, with peppers, cabbage and tomatoes as its major crops, Watson said.

Because Louisville-based Grow Farms’ growers are spread throughout Kentucky and Tennessee, some fared better than others during the spring storms, said Brian Knott, president.

Overall, Knott expects production to be similar to last year’s with respect to the approximately 20 crops it produced last year.

May was a wet month, but about two weeks of warm weather in late May and early June helped speed the crops’ growth so that they were on schedule as of mid-June, Knott said.

Ideal tomato-growing weather is in the high 80-degree-range, but two weeks of daytime temperatures of 90 degrees and above were good for the crops. After that period, temperatures returned to normal, in the 80s, Knott said.

In mid-June, Grow Farms was harvesting summer squash and zucchini. Cabbage and cucumber harvests were expected to begin in late June, with bell pepper and field tomato harvests expected to begin by early July. Watermelons and sweet corn are expected to be ready in mid-July, Knott said.

In Grainger County, Tenn., east of Knoxville, field tomatoes were running a bit behind in June because the fields were too wet when growers wanted to plant.

At the university’s farm, field tomatoes were about two weeks behind in mid-June, Wszelaki said.

On June 22, Grainger County tomato grower Rhonda Mixon, co-owner of Rutledge, Tenn.-based John Mixon Farms, said her company had just finished harvesting greenhouse tomatoes and was beginning to pick field tomatoes.

Grainger County was hit by strong hailstorms just after the field crops were planted in April. Mixon Farms also had three to four days in June with severe storms, but Mixon said she didn’t know of any damage. The crops looked good, she said.


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