Mucci International Marketing Inc. is the marketer for the vast majority of Cornies Farms cucumbers.
The Kingsville-based company should be into Ontario peppers and beefsteak and cluster tomatoes by mid-March, said Joe Spano, sales manager.
Lakeside Produce has English cucumbers out of Ontario year-round, and mini cucumbers about 10 months of the year, supplemented with Mexican produce in the winter.
The company plans to be into cluster, beefsteak and on-the-vine tomatoes by March 15, and bell peppers by the first of April, Coufal said.
Del Fresco Produce, Kingsville, is one of the first to get its cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes into the ground, said Carl Mastronardi, president.
The company started cucumber production in late January, taking a break only because it propagates all of its own cucumber plants.
“Our company has been around since the 1960s, and we’re one of the first to propagate our own,” Carl Mastronardi said. “We stopped in the 90s when we started getting big, but we found out quality was really suffering, so we started growing our own.”
Carl Mastronardi said less than a handful of Ontario growers propagate their own plants now.
For Del Fresco, light levels in December were actually a little better than normal.
“Our plants look really good right now,” he said early January. “January hasn’t been so good, but that’s not going to affect things too much.”
The company is planning for harvest about four to five days earlier than normal.
Neighbors to the south
Greenhouse produce grown in Mexico, the U.S. and even the Dominican Republic can be supplemental to the Canadian season, but it can also be considered competitive.
“The harvest cycle isn’t what it was five or ten years ago because of competition, so sometimes it doesn’t pay to come in as early as we used to,” Lapos said. “We would love to get tomatoes year round, but it just doesn’t work. Same with peppers.”
For some, though, foreign competition isn’t enough to keep them from growing in Ontario all winter long.
“We’re a little bit early on cukes, about a month,” said Mark Slater, co-owner of Erie James Ltd. “Customers have been demanding local over imports.”
The company was set to be in full swing on cucumbers by Feb. 1, with tomatoes and peppers coming on by April.
With a bigger grower base this year, Erie James should see an expansion on cluster tomatoes and baby seedless cucumbers, Slater said.