Some Eastern vegetable crops are thriving in mid-summer, but others are still dealing with the effects of cool, wet spring planting weather.
Those spring conditions have yielded to hot, dry conditions this summer, and vegetable fields have responded favorably, said Bill Nardelli, president of Cedarville, N.J.-based Nardelli Bros.
“Quality has been exceptional,” Nardelli said July 13. “We’ve been very fortunate to have good weather conditions.”
In mid-July Nardelli Bros. was coming into full volume on peppers, cucumbers, squash, beans, eggplant, hot peppers and other dry vegetable items, Nardelli said.
Cedarville-based Eastern Fresh Growers Inc. wrapped up its squash deal July 11 but was in full swing on peppers and cucumbers in mid-July, said Tom Sheppard, the company's president.
Sheppard also reported excellent quality. Eastern Fresh expects heavy volumes of peppers through August.
The company’s cucumber deal will likely have an August lull, as Michigan and New York volumes come on, before picking up steam again in September, he said.
Demand on all items has been good, Nardelli said, as vegetable harvests in Michigan, Ohio, New York and other states have been delayed because of poor growing conditions earlier in the season.
“I think we’ll have a good solid three weeks of good movement” before competing regions enter the deal, Nardelli said July 13.
Chain store demand for Jersey Fresh-labeled locally-grown New Jersey vegetables has been very strong this summer, Nardelli said.
On July 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $14.35 for 1 1/9-bushel cartons of jumbo green peppers from North Carolina, down from $16-18 last year at the same time.
Bushel cartons of medium cucumbers from Mexico were $18.95, down from $20.95-22.95 last year at the same time.
Sheppard reported strong demand for Eastern Fresh’s cucumbers and peppers in mid-July, fueled in part by problems New York growers had getting crops planted.
One of those growers, King Ferry, N.Y.-based Turek Farms, was seeing the effects of Mother Nature on its bean and cabbage fields in mid-July, said Jason Turek, partner.
After picking an early field of beans, Turek Farms was looking at a two-week gap before it could pick another, Turek said July 13.
“It’s about the worst scenario you could have for beans,” he said. “They were planted in wet soil, the roots never went down, and now it’s bone-dry.”
Crews harvesting cabbage the week of July 11 were finding that just 20% of product was salvageable.
“It’s a pretty grim-looking scene right now,” Turek said.
The company expects to begin harvesting sweet corn about July 25. Larger-sized corn seemed to be OK the week of July 11, but Turek was concerned about the fate of smaller product.