Rain slows Ohio vegetable deal

06/06/2014 11:23:00 AM
Mike Hornick

A stretch of heavy rain and cool temperatures in mid-May pushed back the start of Ohio vegetable production by several days for some growers, leaving them hoping to catch up in June with a return to warm weather.

“A cold spell in April or the first of May is one thing,” said Scott Michael, president of Urbana, Ohio-based Michael Farms. “Get one in the middle of May, and you’ve lost a lot of potential. When your average is 75 degrees and you end up with 55 for the week, that’s a big difference. In April you haven’t lost as much.”

That was enough to delay the expected start of green beans, the company’s biggest crop, from the typical June 20 to June 26. Sweet corn is due July 14.

“Everything is just a little later than usual,” he said, including cabbage.

Willard, Ohio-based Buurma Farms Inc. kicked off its season with bunched and cello-packed radishes May 26.

Radishes are Buurma’s main crop. The company anticipated production of cilantro, dill, turnip and mustard greens by the first week of June, co-owner Loren Buurma said May 19. Collards, kale, green onions and parsley varieties will follow.

“We always have a short season, so it just makes the season that much shorter,” Buurma said of the May weather disruption. His operation typically goes into October.

Buurma Farms expects leafy greens — romaine, boston and leaf lettuce, escarole and endive — to start peaking in mid-June.

Willard, Ohio-based Wiers Farm Inc., which also grows lettuce, was running three to seven days behind usual start dates. The company markets under the Dutch Maid label,

“We just seem to get a half inch (of rain) at a time that keeps the ground a little too moist for doing some of the field work,” said Ben Wiers, president. “But we’ve been able to get in on and off, so we do have supplies out there. It’s not quite the quantities we normally would like, but due to the cooler weather it probably would have bunched up and grown too close together anyway.

“If we get some good heat units here in the next month we should be able to play some catch-up on the harvest dates.”

Ken Holthouse, general manager of North Fairfield, Ohio-based Doug Walcher Farms and chief financial officer of Holthouse Farms, said volumes can rise surprisingly quickly.

“Three years ago we got out late, by the middle of June, and had the best crop we had in 10 years,” he said. “It all depends on what the weather does after you get out.”


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