Late plantings likely mean supply gaps for Michigan crops - The Packer

Late plantings likely mean supply gaps for Michigan crops

06/09/2011 10:35:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

Bruce Heeren, vice president of Belding, Mich.-based Michigan Fresh Marketing, said his company did have to change fields because of wet conditions, but had all of its early production planted within a few days of normal. Heeren expects cucumbers to come off about June 20, and tomatoes by July 20, all within normal range.

The earliest spring crop out of Michigan, asparagus, is facing an even shorter window this year because of weather.

“What is usually an eight-week deal is more like a five- to six-week deal,” Todd Miedema said.

Talbert Nething, general manager of Byron Center, Mich.-based Hearty Fresh, said the cold weather also affected sizing, as asparagus tends to get larger around instead of growing tall when temperatures are too low.

Costanza said his investment in tile water control over the last few years is what’s keeping him in business this year. For growers without extensive drainage, this spring was likely debilitating.

“It’s going to get interesting,” Costanza said. “A lot of these farms aren’t set up to handle this.”

Over on the eastern side of the state, Mike Pirrone Produce Inc., Mussey, is gearing up to be just about a week behind schedule on some of its commodities. Joe Pirrone, president, said they’ve spent the spring fighting the weather to get things planted, but that quality won’t suffer.

“There are a lot of people on marginal ground that isn’t tiled,” Pirrone said. “We have had to fight some of the issues, but have it a lot better than some of the people around.”

Todd Miedema said even with tiling, fields are in a constant state of wet.

“It’s absolutely saving your bacon right now,” Todd Miedema said.

Though many would classify Michigan’s spring weather as cold and wet, Pirrone said it was actually a warm spring, as temperatures have stayed moderate with lower-than-usual highs and higher-than-usual lows.

Pirrone expected to have cabbage the last week of June, along with zucchini and yellow squash, followed by cucumbers the first week of July and peppers by the last week of July.

For marketer Superior Sales, Hudsonville, Mich., most items are going to be up to two weeks late, said Todd DeWaard, sales manager. DeWaard expected green cabbage to start by mid- to late June, which is normal, but other Michigan leaf items to be two weeks late, coming off at the end of June.



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