Empire State crops take a beating

07/15/2011 11:43:00 AM
Amelia Freidline

This year’s spring weather looks to cut into production of New York corn, cabbage and green beans.

Growers expect less corn, beans and cabbage during the early parts of the summer deals.

The Empire State ranks as the third-biggest U.S. bean shipper, fourth-leading sweet corn producer and the fifth-largest cabbage grower.

Sweet corn

Turek Farms, King Ferry, N.Y., doesn’t plan to start its corn harvest until early August, about 10 days later than its normal late July start.

Jason Turek, partner, said things look difficult.

“The early corn is uneven,” he said in mid-June.

“It looks like it will not be a bumper yield.”

Turek said the later plantings, the ones planted in mid-June, should produce well for Labor Day demand.

In the western part of the state, Eden Valley Growers, Eden, N.Y., plans to begin harvesting in late July, two weeks behind its regular mid-July start.

“It’s tough to tell about the crop now,” Dave Walczak, sales and operations manager, said in mid-June.

“It’s a little uneven in the fields. The corn that got planted after the first round of planting is looking better. We should be a little short at the beginning but will be fine after we get into August.”

Gill Corn Farms Inc., Hurley, N.Y., plans to start shipments in light volume July 20.

Tim Richards, salesman, said extreme south Georgia heat could end that growing region’s harvesting a little earlier than normal. Georgia normally finishes in early to mid-July.

Richards called last year challenging.

“It was a tough year for us,” he said.

“We fought an oversupply situation pretty well most of the summer. Marketing was a challenge for a while. The deal was way oversupplied from other areas such as New Jersey, the Carolinas and Virginia.”

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Georgia corn selling for $5.85-6.85 for all varieties in early July.

Cabbage

Growers say early cabbage production should be light.

Growers normally begin production in late June or by mid-July. Because of the spring planting problems, growers say they expect to begin harvesting in mid- to late July.

Eric Hansen, vice president of Hansen Farms LLC, Stanley, N.Y., said the tight July crop should mean shippers will experience some supply challenges.

“From beginning to end, we will get all our acreage in,” he said in mid-June.

“After having zero during early July, it will gradually pick up. The whole month of July and for at least half of August, we will look at having 50% to 60% of our normal crop.”

Maureen Marshall, vice president of Torrey Farms Inc., Elba, N.Y., said buyers should expect half a crop during the early deal.

“The first plantings look really awful,” she said in mid-June.

“Everything planted early looks ugly. It’s not very even. Once you get into the crops planted toward the end of May, those look really nice.”

Torrey Farms produces its biggest volume in September, October and November before the storage deal starts in December and runs through mid-June.

Tony Piedimonte, owner of James J. Piedimonte & Sons Inc. & Anthony J. Piedimonte/Cabbco, Holley, N.Y. — the northern marketing division of Wimauma, Fla.-based Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC — said cabbage production should be light through July.

He said some of the earlier plantings appear to be stalled.

“We hope the stores don’t raise the retails too high in July,” Piedimonte said.

“We will need the support of the chains adjusting the retails to move the product.”

Last season, Michigan shipments during late June sold for $5.75-6.50 for 50-pound cartons of medium round green cabbage.

Green beans

Buyers can expect beans to enter the New York deal late.

Piedimonte said he expects his harvesting to commence in late July at the earliest, a couple of weeks later than the normal mid-July start.

Depending on weather, earnest harvesting may not start until early August, he said in mid-June.

“What’s up, other than the first two plantings, looks nice,” Piedimonte said.

“Everything looks good after the first two week of plantings which got hammered.”

Turek Farms plans to begin in late July as well.

Turek said last season had favorable growing conditions that produced a bumper crop.

Marshall said light volume should hit the market in mid-July and then improve.

“We will have supplies,” she said in late June.

“We should have normal quality.”

Marshall said Michigan and Ohio usually start a couple of weeks ahead of New York, with New Jersey and Pennsylvania beginning harvesting in June.

Tennessee begins in June and ends in July before New York starts but returns for a fall deal.



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