(May 20) VINELAND, N.J. — One of the snowiest winters on record hasn’t put a chill in the New Jersey spring vegetable deal, as grower-shippers report good quality, ample supplies and strong prices.

Of greater concern to growers than the snow was a rainy and cool late winter and early spring, when many had trouble getting crops in the ground. But good weather in April and May has gotten most crops back on track, and in some cases the cool, wet weather has actually helped.

New Jersey’s wet spring crops will ship throughout May and early June before giving way to the dry summer deals in mid- to late-June.

Bill Nardelli, vice president of Nardelli Bros. Inc., Cedarville, said when crops grow slowly, as they have this spring because of the weather, they come out of the field hardier.

“The quality this spring has been exceptional,” Nardelli said. “This weather has been very good for the greens and leafs. And markets are extremely active on the leafs. The West Coast has had weather and transportation problems, which have put us in a good trading position.”

Romaine and leaf lettuce have been the big beneficiaries of the problems out west, said Jerry Mongelluzzo, president of Mike & Matt Produce Co. LLC, Vineland.

“We hit a nice window,” Mongelluzzo said.

Romaine cases of 24s out of Jersey were fetching $16-18 out of New York’s Hunts Point Terminal Market May 19, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Boston 24s out of Jersey were $8-10 and bibb $15-16.

Bunched 24s of collards from the Garden State sold for $11-13, kale 24s were $10-12, mustard 24s were $13-15 and Swiss chard 24s were $12-14. Those prices were about double typical f.o.b. prices around the country last year at this time.

In May, greens, lettuces, asparagus and herbs were the main crops leading off the South Jersey deal. Markets for all products were expected to be average-to-high, with asparagus in particular coming on strong, said Peter Bylone, manager of the Vineland Cooperative Produce Association, Vineland.

“The weather pushed us about 10 days behind schedule, but we had warmer weather, and the row covers helped a lot,” Bylone said. “The quality on the early crops looks very good. We’ve had some very nice days and ideal nights for greens.”

Cartons of bunched New Jersey large asparagus sold for $32-35 out of New York on May 19. Last year at this time, f.o.b.s on asparagus around the country ranged from $25-31.

Prices on New Jersey herbs ranged from $8-10 for 4/5 bushel carton 24s of bunched arrugula, $7-7.50 for film bags of bunched chives, $10 for cartons of bunched 24s cilantro and $8-9 for cartons of bunched 12s mint.

The star performer this year at Eastern Fresh Growers Inc., Cedarville, has been asparagus, a relatively new crop for the company. While the wet early spring delayed plantings, the crop has thrived since and yields should be about 40% higher than last year, with high quality and good markets to boot, said Tom Sheppard, the company’s president.

In the past, New Jersey was big in the asparagus deal, Sheppard said, until disease started decimating crops. But when scientists at the state’s Rutgers University developed disease-resistant varieties, Eastern Fresh and other growers got back in the deal.

A significant percentage of Eastern Fresh’s spring vegetable deals goes to Canada, before the Canadian season gets into full swing. New this year, the company is shipping spring mix through a deal with Veg Pro International Inc., Sherrington, Quebec.