After higher than normal winter prices for many vegetables, Mid-Atlantic grower-shippers were preparing for another summer season with more normal prices.
The region from North Carolina to Virginia, Delaware and Maryland produces many tomatoes and potatoes, and vegetables such as cabbage and squash.
Watermelon and peaches remain the larger volume fruits along with blueberry production, which has increased in recent years.
Growing conditions in the Western Shore area of Virginia have been favorable, said Rod Parker, general manager of Parker Farms LLC, Oak Grove, Va.
“It’s getting a little dry now, but we have basically had what I would call a normal and average spring,” he said in early May.
“Since we started planting, things have been pretty much on schedule. We haven’t had any extra rain or long dry periods to disturb the planting schedule so things are right on the money.”
Bob Colson, president of C&E Farms Inc., Cheriton, Va., said the Delmarva region has declined in importance in vegetable production.
“Other areas are starting earlier than they used to, so where the Eastern Shore used to be a bigger player, there’s not as much vegetables here anymore,” he said.
“People want to go directly from Georgia to Michigan. That scrolls the six-week Eastern Shore window down ,so it has been difficult to do anything as far as vegetables go.”
Colson said the region has reduced production on many items and now grows primarily green beans and tomatoes.
Cabbage availability should be strong, said Jeff Greene, vice president of operations for Hollar & Greene Produce Co. Inc., Boone, N.C.
“Retailers should have good supplies of cabbage this season,” he said in mid-May.
“They need to remember that during summer’s extreme heat, there could be more production issues with cabbage. But overall, the crop looks well.”
Richard Papen, vice president of Papen Farms Inc., Dover, Del., said last season proved strong.
“Last year we had a good year on cabbage and corn,” he said. “We had good weather and didn’t have much of an overlap on cabbage and corn.”
Georgia finished corn early last year around July Fourth, he said.
Papen said this year appears to be a normal year.
Kurt Schweitzer, co-owner of Keystone Fruit Marketing Inc., Greencastle, Pa., said peach growers up and down the Mid-Atlantic region experienced a strong crop last season.
Despite shoppers cutting back on their grocery lists, Schweitzer said peaches have retained their economic viability.
“Demand has been soft in some case, but when they are promotable and at the right price, the response has been fantastic,” he said.
“Demand hasn’t been bad. Consumers obviously have to eat and are looking more towards nutrition and feeling good about themselves.”
Will Hales, partner in Coastal Growers LLC, Salisbury, Md., said watermelon growers were looking to a better season this year after heavy rains in Maryland and Delaware caused a rough year last summer.
He said growers are hoping for a drier season.
“It looks like we will start on time,” Hales said.