(UPDATED Feb. 28) Brighton, Colo.-based Sakata Farms is discontinuing sweet corn, broccoli and cabbage production.
The company is auctioning off equipment for those items March 10.
“We’ll increase a little bit on the onions, pinto beans and the grain crops,” said Robert Sakata Jr., president of Sakata Farms. Sakata said the overhead costs for sweet corn, especially for labor, were too high to continue. The company is responsible for transporting seasonal labor from Florida to Colorado and then back after the season, and also provides housing for those employees.
“The Denver economy is booming right now,” Sakata said. “Even people living there full-time can’t seem to find affordable housing and trying to find it for seasonal workers was almost impossible.”
Onions have less of a need for labor, and Sakata said the company might try a small H-2A program for onions.
“It will be a smaller crew for a longer period of time,” he said. “It should pencil out better.”
According to a 1994 article in The Packer on the company and founders Bob and Joanna Sakata, Sakata Farms developed the extra-sweet variety of sweet corn, and were pioneers of pre-husked ears of corn. The company experimented with broccoli transplants as well.
“People are shocked that we are not going to have sweet corn, especially in Denver where we have been a staple for a long time,” Robert Sakata Jr. said, noting Sakata has grown sweet corn for more than 50 years.
Sakata said the operation’s total acreage will stay about the same.