Greenhouse growers expect a normal start to winter deals

02/05/2010 02:11:00 PM
Ashley Bentley

LEAMINGTON, Ontario — Despite a snowy winter, greenhouse growers in Ontario expect an on-time start to their greenhouse vegetable season.

“It’s about the same as last year, but compared to usual, I’d say it’s a little late,” said Ron Lapos, president of Kingsville-based Special Edition Marketing.

Weather had been pretty mild until January until, like the U.S., Ontario got its fair share of snow.

“The last few weeks it’s been real cold, but up until then it hasn’t been bad,” Lapos said in early January.

Cucumbers are grown year-round in and around Leamington, although at a much lower production level during the winter.

Many growers take some time off in December and January to get going for the next spring.
Double Diamond Acres Ltd. cleaned up and got its transplants in around Dec. 10, said Chris Mastronardi, sales manager.

The company ships a full range of Ontario greenhouse produce: beefsteak, cluster and specialty tomatoes, bell peppers and seedless cucumbers.

“We had unusually good weather until December,” Mastronardi said. “December was average, and so far January’s been pretty average.”

Grower-owned Westmoreland Sales has Ontario cucumbers year-round, and Dino Dilaudo, sales manager, said things are on par with years past. The company should be into tomatoes and peppers by March.

The company brought a few new growers on board this year, so its acreage on peppers and cluster tomatoes should be up a bit, Dilaudo said.

Double Diamond should start harvesting cucumbers in mid-February, tomatoes by March 10 and peppers by March 15, Mastronardi said.

Cucumbers are a main item for Jem-D International, which should start harvesting by Feb. 1, with tomatoes and peppers coming on by March 1.

“It’s been cloudy, not a bad December but not a lot of sun” said Kyle Moynahan, salesman for Jem-D International.

For Cornies Farms Ltd., Kingsville, low light means smaller, and sometimes curvier, English seedless cucumbers.

The grower produces only English seedless cucumbers year-round, with the exception of a few weeks in December to transition.

“There’s not a lot of production right now, but there’s not a lot of movement, either,” said James Cornies, owner. “December was pretty dark. There were higher temperatures but low light, and light is what we need.”

When cucumbers don’t get the light they need, some end up smaller or discolored, and some end up curling into a “C” shape, instead of staying straight.

“This time of year, with shorter days, typically the fruit is smaller,” said Tom Coufal, salesman for Lakeside Produce. “It could be 10 degrees and sunny. They just need the light.”


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