Bad weather not expected to dent Ohio veg deals - The Packer

Bad weather not expected to dent Ohio veg deals

06/05/2009 10:49:16 AM
Andy Nelson

An often cold and rainy growing season should not greatly affect the size or timing of Ohio vegetable deals, grower-shippers said in late May.

Willard, Ohio-based Buurma Farms Inc. began shipping radishes in the second half of May, and expected cilantro, greens, green onions, parsley, kale and other vegetables to follow in June, said Loren Buurma, co-owner.

So far, the season has been “normal,” Buurma said, if by normal you mean not normal at all.

“The weather’s been unusual, as most years are,” he said.

The growing season started off dry, only to be followed by a long wet period, Buurma said. Despite the challenges, Buurma Farms was able to get most crops in the ground.

Some plantings were pushed back a week, but customers may not even know it, if the weather improves.

What the company misses on the front end, it can make up on the backside, Buurma said.

“The trend the past few years has been a later start in the spring and a later end in the fall,” he said.

The weather turned out to be manageable for North Fairfield, Ohio-based Doug Walcher Farms, said Ken Holthouse, general manager.

“There was a little rain delay, but nothing major,” he said. “We’re pretty well on schedule.”

Walcher Farms expects to begin shipping zucchini and yellow squash in mid-June, right on time, Holthouse said.

Cucumbers should follow in late June, and bell peppers in mid- to late July, he said.

Jim Wiers, president of Willard, Ohio-based Wiers Farms Inc./Dutch Maid, agreed with Walcher that Mother Nature didn’t throw anything insurmountable in his company’s path.

“We’re pretty much on schedule,” he said. “We’ve had good growing conditions, good moisture and we’re looking forward to a good season.”

Wiers Farms began shipping radishes in mid-May, with greens, romaine, leaf lettuce and other commodities following later in the month, Wiers said.

In June, the company will follow those crops up with production of dill, cilantro, curly and plain parsley, beets, yellow squash, green onions and other crops, he said.

Sweet corn, peppers, cucumbers and other vegetables will follow in July, with acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash, and jalapenos, poblanos, anaheims and other hot peppers in August, Wiers said.

Wiers Farms, like many other Ohio growers, is growing roughly the same amounts of the same crops it did last year, Wiers said.

“We really don’t change our mix very much,” he said. “Our customer base is dialed in. They know what they want from us.”

Jamestown, Ohio-based GroCo Farms Inc. expects to begin shipping squash June 15, with cucumbers following about July 4 and peppers July 10-15, said Mark Guess, president.

Acreage on all three commodities is similar to last year, he said.

For the most part, GroCo has been able to scale the hurdles Mother Nature has put in its way this spring with relative ease, Guess said.

“It’s been pretty normal,” he said. “It’s been a little cool, a bit on the wet side, but we have the plantings in that we’d like to have in.”

While it was too early in mid-May to predict what markets would be like when GroCo’s vegetable deals get underway, it’s no mystery what market signs Guess will look for when that time nears.

“The bearing will be, when our window opens up, what are the prices in Georgia?” he said.

For Don Bettinger, president of Bettinger Farms Inc., Swanton, Ohio, there’s been an overriding question this season.

“When’s the weather going to change?” Bettinger said. “It’s been extremely cold and rainy.”

Bettinger expects to begin harvesting his sweet corn July 20, give or take a week or two, depending on Mother Nature’s willingness to cooperate. But in mid-May his thoughts were at a much earlier stage in the process.

“We’ve got to get it in the ground here,” he said, citing the wet and cool conditions that have made planting a challenge all spring.

Bettinger Farms plans to plant corn continuously up until July, with shipments beginning to wind down in September. The company is forecasting similar acreage as last year, Bettinger said.

While Bettinger Farms was having trouble getting the crop planted this year, some fields were faring better than others.

“What we’ve got in the ground looks good so far,” he said.



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