Delayed but bountiful vegetable harvest expected

06/14/2013 02:44:00 PM
David Mitchell

Michigan growers waited out a cold, wet spring, but they expect a good outlook for vegetable crops this summer.

“It took quite a while for the snow melt and ice to go away,” said Todd Miedema, marketing director and principal with Miedema Produce Inc., Hudsonville.

“We had a really cold April. It forced guys to plant later than normal.”

Miedema, however, said that although most crops are a week or two later than usual, he expects typical supplies of all commodities.

“Aside from a late start, growing conditions have been good,” he said. “I don’t expect any huge glitches.”

Ryan Buurma, Michigan field manager and vice president with Willard, Ohio-based Buurma Farms, said the company’s farms in Gregory, Mich., had to replant 30 acres of greens, kale, beets and carrots after a late May frost. But Buurma said later plantings were still under ground at that time and were not affected.

Buurma said his company expected to start harvesting cilantro in late June. Parsley should follow around July 10 with greens starting 10 days later.

That late May frost did little damage at Leitz Farms LLC, Sodus, Mich.

“Another degree would have hurt us,” Fred Leitz Jr. said.

Spring frosts that devastated Michigan’s tree fruit production in 2012 had little effect on vegetable growers, but Leitz lost 60% of his tomato and cucumber crops last year to an August hail storm. He’s optimistic, however, for better things in 2013.

“Everything looks pretty good right now,” he said June 3. “It looks as good as I’ve seen it in a long time.”

Leitz said he expects to start harvesting zucchini June 20 and cucumbers June 25, providing good volume through September.

He said his company would harvest grape tomatoes July 15 and round tomatoes July 25 with volume through Aug. 10 and Aug. 15, respectively.

Dave Miedema, president of E. Miedema & Sons, Byron Center, Mich., said his company also survived May frost with no damage and he expects to start harvesting cabbage and zucchini June 20.

“We’re on the wet side, but we’ve been able to stay on schedule,” he said. “Our cabbage looks good. It likes cool weather, and moisture makes it grow.”

Miedema said cabbage volume should peak around July 1 and volume would continue through October.

He said sweet corn harvest typically starts around July 20, but it may be a bit later this season.

“Sweet corn is behind, but it looks great,” he said.

He said sweet corn harvest would last through September. Fall squash also is expected to start in late July and last into late November.

Gene Talsma, president of Crispheart Produce Inc., Hudsonville, Mich., said celery harvest typically starts around July 4. The cool, wet weather could push the start date back a few days, but quality and volume should not be affected.

“We anticipate a good crop,” said Talsma, who added that peak volume should last into September before harvest winds down in mid-October.

Michigan’s asparagus deal typically wraps up by the third week in June, but Tyler Hodges, sales manager for Todd Greiner Farms, Hart, Mich., said that might not be the case this year.

“We started late with asparagus from a persistently cold spring,” he said June 4. “Our weather in June so far looks to be outstanding, which will allow us to go further into June, nearly reaching July with supply. If we’re able to get the production out in June, the later start will not hurt as much.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported June 4 that 28-pound cartons of bunched, asparagus from Michigan were $50-54.



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