With weather problems in other growing areas, New Jersey fruit and vegetable growers reported strong demand for spring crops, and expected more of the same this summer.
Demand was strong out of the gate for Fresh Wave Fruit & Produce, Vineland, N.J., because of growing problems in Texas, said Nick Giordano, the company’s vice president.
The company began shipping romaine and leaf lettuce, parsley and cilantro about May 1, Giordano said.
“Texas had so many problems,” he said. “A lot of pressure came here fast when we were ready. Markets have been good.”
At the other end of the deal, Fresh Wave expects strong demand for its vegetable items because of poor weather in Canada, Giordano said.
“Canada is several weeks late, Ontario and Quebec,” he said May 19. “They’ve had five straight days of rain, and it has been extremely cold.”
Giordano is confident Fresh Wave will be able to extend its Jersey deals, possibly all the way to July 1, to fill the gaps expected to be left by Canada.
The company has more product this year to meet that extra demand, Giordano said. Lettuce acreage is up by about 300 acres for Fresh Wave.
Fresh Wave also expects strong demand for its blueberries, which should begin shipping in mid-June, Giordano said.
“Blueberries sell themselves,” he said. “Demand always exceeds supply.”
Tim Wetherbee, sales manager for Diamond Blueberry Inc., Hammonton, N.J., also expects strong demand for blueberries in 2011, given how the season has gone so far in other growing areas.
“The other states kicking in, there seems to be a positive response,” he said. “Demand seems to be very good.”
Poor early growing weather could wind up benefiting New Jersey growers, said Bill Nardelli, president of Cedarville, N.J.-based Nardelli Bros.
Not being able to get into the field every day to plant meant that plantings were spread out over a longer period of time, he said.
That’s ideal for Nardelli Bros., which tries to ship product as soon as it’s packed, and to have it in grocery stores and restaurants soon after.
“We want to have somebody eating it the next day,” he said. “By staggering plantings, we’re able to do that. You don’t want to have a glut.”
Whether the spread-out planting schedule this spring helped out or not, Nardelli Bros. has enjoyed brisk movement thus far this season, Nardelli said.
“We’ve had great demand,” he said. “There were some tight supplies where Florida and Texas finished, and the chains came in here and supported us well.”