A warm spring may provide a kick-start to Ontario’s field produce season.
“Honestly, we’re about three or four weeks ahead right now,” Jamie Reaume, executive director of the Newmarket-based Holland Marsh Growers Association, said May 25. “We’ve had some exceptional weather. It’s been drier than normal, but we have the access of having canals and irrigation throughout the marsh. That’s a good thing.”
Harvest of some Chinese greens already was under way, Reaume said.
“We’re ahead of the game,” he said.
He said the more than 100 growers in the Holland Marsh, a greenbelt area just north of Toronto, would be working to stay ahead.
“We’re very much going to be involved this summer in making sure there’s enough produce, if — and that’s if — Mother Nature cooperates with us,” he said. “And remember, ours is not in the greenhouse. It’s strictly out in the field.”
A bounty in the field, however, could have implications on returns, Reaume said.
“Canadian farmers and Ontario farmers, for that matter, are the most competitive people,” he said.
However, Candian producers face difficulties similar to those faced by U.S. growers, he said.
“They’re all dealing with the same thing we’re dealing with — a globalized marketplace that works toward the lowest price.”
There should be plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, cabbage, parsnips and numerous other vegetables for the market, Reaume said.
“We think we’re priced accordingly for the local market, and we still have enough to export,” he said.
Growers shared his optimistic outlook.
“Everything looks really well so far,” said Doug Pearce, partner in Leamington, Ontario-based Pier C Produce, whose primary products are onions and carrots. “We got off to an early start, which was really good. Hopefully, we’ll be on the marketplace with carrots and onions early.”
Pearce said he hopes the onion market remains strong.
“The markets for last year got fairly high for onions, which was much-needed and appreciated,” he said. “This season looks pretty good.”
Vittoria, Ontario-based Scotlynn Commodities, which grows pumpkins, sweet corn, watermelons and ginseng, also anticipates a healthy market this year, said owner Scott Biddle.
“Things are shaping up really good,” he said. “We’re probably a good 10 days to two weeks early, with our early spring warm weather. That’s positive.”
Biddle said he is coming off a successful, if less than ideal, season in 2009.
“Last year was a decent pumpkin and sweet corn crop, although ginseng suffered because it’s more a root crop,” he said. “The watermelons like a hotter, drier year. Last year wasn’t very hot or dry, so it was less than a perfect year.”