Ideal weather conditions could help Dublin Farms Inc. start its harvest of red and white potatoes earlier than normal, and a new early variety should scoot up yellow production as well.
“They’ve grown as fast as I’ve ever seen them,” David Hickman, vice president of Dublin Farms Inc., Horntown, Va., said May 18. “The crop looks really good. It’s been warmer than normal with a lot of sunshine. It’s been dry, but we’re irrigating. We had a dry winter. When potatoes were planted, conditions were ideal.”
Hickman said he expects to begin harvesting whites and reds June 23, about 10 days early. Yellows will follow June 27, beginning with the augusta variety. Hickman said the new variety — which has a deep yellow flesh and yellow skin and will account for a quarter of the company’s yellow volume — will be about 10 days ahead of Yukon gold.
“Normally being early is a good thing,” he said. “It will give us a longer window than normal. We’ll have more volume than last year if Mother Nature continues to cooperate. We haven’t had any adversity.”
That wasn’t the case last season when growers in the Mid-Atlantic region faced excessive rain early in year, drought in the summer and extreme heat during harvest.
“Last year anything that could go wrong did,” said Hickman, who said he expects normal volume and excellent quality.
Butch Nottingham, marketing representative for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said May 20 that the state’s potato growers expect good yields and great quality.
Blake Bradberry, salesman for Thomas E. Moore, Dover Del., said potato harvest in North Carolina is expected to start in the second or third week of June, while Delaware spud growers likely will start in late July.
Sean McFadden, sales manager for Parker Farms, Oak Grove, Va., said May 20 that the company already had started broccoli harvest in North Carolina and Virginia in a deal that lasts four week, and squash was expected to start May 23.
McFadden, whose employer also ships cucumbers, bell peppers, squash, sweet corn and eggplant, said Parker Farms’ summer vegetable program will have peak volume from the second week in July through August.
He said Parker likely will harvest sweet corn from June 20 through Aug. 15.
“We’re expecting a good crop,” McFadden said.
Like Hickman, Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., Cheriton, Va., also was expecting an early start. Cullen said May 17 that Northampton’s green bean and squash deals likely would start June 1 – about five days early — and peak during the second week in July.
Cullen, whose company also ships cabbage, cucumbers, bell peppers, eggplants and sweet corn — said whether or not an early start would be beneficial would hinge on Georgia.
“It all depends on if Georgia finishes up early,” he said. “If not, we’ll run into them. Georgia started a week early.”
Cullen said Northampton would have promotable volumes of sweet corn, green beans and cucumbers by July 4.
“Fourth of July is big for sweet corn,” he said. “Everything right now looks very good. We’ve had ideal weather.”
Further north, Richard Papen, vice president of Papen Farms Inc., Dover, Del., said May 17 that his company would miss out on Fourth of July sweet corn promotions but would have ample supplies for Labor Day.
“It’s hard to get enough corn for Labor Day,” he said. “We can only pack so much. Everybody promotes it, and it moves well.”
Papen said he expected to start his sweet corn harvest in early July with promotable volumes by July 10 and supplies lasting to mid-September.
Papen said his company would harvest cabbage beginning June 10 with volume increasing by June 20. Green beans are expected to start June 20 with volume peaking July 1.
President Will Hales said Coastal Growers LLC, Salisbury, Md., expected to have vine-ripe tomatoes from June 25 through the end of September.