your-news image

The 2011 fall produce season is under way and should be highlighted by fair quantities of high-quality produce available for wholesale and retail purchase. To understand New Jersey’s fall season, one needs to take a look at the extreme weather that its farmers have had to deal with to produce its fall crop. This is the second season in a row that severe weather has had a major impact.

Last year, New Jersey experienced the third-wettest winter in recorded history and the wettest March. This was followed by the warmest April through September six-month period in recorded history.

Although this season started normally enough, New Jersey experienced the warmest July in recorded history, with a record of 21 days hitting 90 degrees or higher. Although most summer crops prefer dryer conditions, hot and stressful July growing conditions caused some pollination issues, blossom burn off and heat stress. This caused decreased production levels and smaller sizes for most produce items. In addition, sequential plantings of produce items tended to ripen closer in time, resulting in a supply gap for a couple of weeks in mid-August. Farmers found themselves between plantings for items that are normally in late-season supply.

August was the wettest month ever in New Jersey, and that was even before Hurricane Irene increased that new record amount. Substantial rain onto fields that were already water logged caused flooding, and standing water in areas resulted in quality and shelf-life issues for tomatoes and early-fall produce.

Rainfall amounts and wind speeds varied greatly around the state, though, so the extent of damage from those forces has been variable.

Soils and topography also have had an impact. Lighter soils drained better than heavier, water-logged soils. Low-lying areas tended to maintain excess water.

There were some early-fall supply shortages because farmers couldn’t get heavy machinery into fields and were forced to wait a few days to dry out before going back out into their fields. Many farmers picked as much of their crops as they could before the hurricane. Then, they hand picked as much of their crops as they could afterwards. Farmers were most concerned about two things: field disease conditions; and the wash out of young fall crops, particularly young lettuces and greens.

Record warmth in July coupled with record rains and Hurricane Irene in August meant that most summer produce that is normally available in the fall was less available than normal. Peach crops sustained only slight damage from August rains and Hurricane Irene, and will finish up in mid-September as usual.

New Jersey enjoys the productivity of a large variety of fruits and vegetables due to its moderate climate and inherent “Jersey Fresh” qualities. New Jersey’s 11 principal fresh-market vegetables are tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, eggplant, escarole, snap beans and asparagus. Its five principal fresh-market fruits are strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apples and cranberries.

New Jersey growers are still harvesting declining volumes of their summer produce items, such as sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, peaches, zucchini and yellow squash. Warm season herbs, such as basil and mint, also are finishing up. All of these products are in less supply than normal due to late wet weather and will be done at frost by mid-October.

New Jersey growers harvest cooler-season vegetables in the spring and fall. The fall-season harvests of spinach, escarole/endive, lettuces, turnips, radishes, and white and sweet potatoes are starting about the middle of September. Other vegetables that prefer somewhat cooler temperatures and can survive the summer heat in less quantity such as cabbage, collards, kale, beets, Swiss chard, pickles, cucumbers, radishes, butternut and acorn squash, and herbs such as parsley, dill, coriander, arugula and cilantro are harvesting very well.

Almost all New Jersey apples are sold soon after harvest and are not stored over time in controlled-atmosphere conditions like western apples. Its apples begin their harvest in mid-September with the Jonathan and Courtland varieties, and are followed by Red Delicious, Empire, Jonagold, and McCoun in late month. Golden Delicious, Rome, and Stayman Winesap start harvesting in early October. Braeburn, Fuji, and Granny Smith will start in mid- to late October.

(Bill Walker is with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.)

C&S Wholesale Grocers has appointed Christopher Brown as senior vice president of independent sales, effective Sept. 29. According to the company, this appointment underscores C&S’s commitment to its independent customers and reflects its plans to continue to grow its independent business. “It is incredibly exciting to be joining a company like C&S... Read more
POM Wonderful launches new Antioxidant Super Teas
POM Wonderful, a leading premium refrigerated juice company and purveyor of pomegranates, is powering up the produce aisle with new Antioxidant Super Teas. The new line includes Pomegranate Lemonade Tea, Pomegranate Sweet Tea and Pomegranate Honey Green Tea. POM's top-selling Pomegranate Peach Passion White Tea will join the new Antioxidant Super Teas with a... Read more
Tarheel 2014 sweet potato harvest will be back to normal
BENSON, NC — North Carolina's sweet potato harvest, still in full swing at mid-September, is back to normal, and none too soon. After two years in a row of below-average acreage planted due to weather, the 2014 crop is growing on 66,000 acres. That's the USDA estimate cited by Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission,... Read more
Veg-Fresh Farms expands portfolio, launched Crystal Cove Berry Farms label
Following the recent opening of its new distribution facility and the addition of a long-time fresh berry expert, Veg-Fresh Farms announced the expansion of its business and the launch of the new consumer label, Crystal Cove Berry Farms. Sourcing strawberries from throughout Mexico and California's fertile berry-growing regions, Crystal Cove Berry Farms will... Read more
If conditions remain as expected, Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. believes the 2014 global industry cranberry crop will be between 11.2-11.6 million barrels, down from the 2013 global industry record crop of 12 million barrels. The company expects its grower-owners to deliver 6.6-7 million barrels, which is down from the 7.2 million barrels delivered in 2013. Ocean... Read more
Hot summer brings full flavor to Sunlight’s fall harvest
It’s a non-stop harvest in the vineyards as Jakov P. Dulcich & Sons’ Green and Red Emerald, Scarlet Royal, Autumn Royal, Autumn King, Luisco, Crimson, Vintage and Red Globe grape varieties are being picked and packed. Due to the hot summer, the brix are up, the crunch is strong and the taste is exceptional. “Overall, the grape eating quality is at premium... Read more
NMB announces Mango Mania Display Contest winners
The National Mango Board has announced the winners of the Mango Mania Display Contest and reports an increase of 138 percent mango volume among participating stores compared to the same time last year. The contest is designed to help stores boost mango sales, while showcasing creativity and educating shoppers about mangos. This year, for the first time, the... Read more
Chiquita Brands International Inc. and Fyffes plc have approved a revised agreement for the proposed combination of the companies. Under the terms of the amended agreement, Chiquita shareholders are expected to own approximately 59.6 percent of ChiquitaFyffes, an increase from 50.7 percent under the previous agreement. The companies have also increased the termination... Read more
Snack it Forward to launch Sunkist Fruit 2.0 at PMA Fresh Summit
Snack it Forward LLC announced the launch of Sunkist Fruit 2.0, a new line of natural and healthy freeze-dried fruit that will be unveiled by Snack it Forward under license from Sunkist Growers Inc. at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit Oct. 17–19 in Anaheim, CA. Following Fresh Summit, Fruit 2.0 will be rolling out to grocery, convenience and... Read more
Caramel Naturel Dates 2014 fresh harvest under way
Atlas Produce and Distribution Inc., a shipper of 100 percent natural strictly California-grown dates, announced that the 2014 date harvest is under way. "The quality once again is looking excellent," Robert Dobrzanski, president of Atlas Produce, said in a press release. The California drought condition is a major concern for all of the agricultural community,... Read more
Crunch Pak to debut new products at PMA Fresh Summit
Crunch Pak, a sliced apples specialist, will debut several items at the 2014 PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim. Crunch Pak’s booth (No. 3084) will highlight the variety and scope of the company’s products available and feature its newest items, including the NBA Fit Snacker, which will be sold in Walmart stores this basketball season. NBA Fit Snackers contain sliced... Read more
Avocados from Mexico set to unveil 'Made with Love' campaign at PMA Fresh Summit
Avocados from Mexico will be sharing the love at the upcoming Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Convention & Exposition Oct. 17-19 in Anaheim, CA. With over 1 billion pounds of imports in the United States and 70 percent market share, AFM will be unveiling its "Made with Love" campaign, which showcases the love and dedication that goes into carefully... Read more
Procacci Bros. expands tropical import program, launches new label
Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. announced the expansion of its tropical and ethnic produce program and the launch of its new "Feliz" premium brand of items. The company said it is seeking to increase its growth in the category in response to the changing demographics and demands of consumers in the United States. Procacci's operation will now include a strategic... Read more
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced up to $31.5 million in grants are available to test new ways to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants. News of the program launch drew immediate praise by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the United Fresh Produce Association. "Helping families... Read more
Beneficial rains over the Red River Valley in late August and early September were setting the stage for good harvest conditions of the region’s red potato crop. Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN, added that good harvest conditions, including a softening of the northern... Read more
Southern Roots holds reception at SEPC fall conference
YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council launched its new leadership program for women in produce with a reception Friday afternoon, Sept. 26, during the council's annual fall conference, Sept. 25-27 at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here in the scenic mountains of north Georgia. The program, called Southern Roots, was announced June 30 by the council... Read more
Former UFFVA president Bernie Imming dies at 94
Bernard Joseph Imming, the former president and chief executive officer of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, which is now known as the United Fresh Produce Association, died Sept. 23 at the age of 94. In April 1948, Mr. Imming was employed by the United Merchandising Institute in Kansas City, MO, as an instructor in retail merchandising. He... Read more
Fresh Solutions Network takes fresh approach to potato and onion sales
Potatoes and onions are seen as classic commodity crops by many growers, who place too much emphasis on growing and harvesting their products as inexpensively as possible so that they can sell at lower prices. While that approach may work for some, Fresh Solutions Network sees the equation differently. FSN feels that only focusing on squeezing down costs can... Read more
Wonderful pomegranate harvest begins
California pomegranate growers have confirmed that the popular Wonderful variety has now achieved the deep red color and high sugar for which it is justly famous. Tom Rouse at PomWonderful said that he has been patiently waiting for the Wonderful variety to reach maturity. "We expect promotable quantities in a full range of sizes, by Oct. 8-10," he said in... Read more
'Eat One Fruit A Day That Scares You': Frieda's brings jackfruit to PMA Fresh Summit
A longtime PMA Fresh Summit exhibitor, Frieda's Specialty Produce challenges this year's attendees to "Eat One Fruit A Day That Scares You," and to try jackfruit, the scary-looking fruit that smells and tastes amazing. Samples of jackfruit will be available at Frieda's booth (No. 2830) both days of the PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA, on Oct. 18-19. "Jackfruit... Read more