Bob Sakata, president of Sakata Farms Inc. in Brighton, CO, said he is closely monitoring Colorado’s water situation. “We’re very fortunate right now,” he told The Produce News on June 24. “We have purchased surface water rights providing the river runs.”
Sakata Farms is one of Colorado’s premiere fresh vegetable growers, producing a variety of crops grown within a 30-mile radius of the company’s headquarters. This season, Sakata said the company has 2,400 acres in vegetable production. Acreage in 2013 was reduced from the 3,800 acres planted last year to ensure availability of adequate water to take the crops through the harvest.
“The crops look exceptionally good,” Sakata said of the 2013 season.
Colorado snowpack is melting quickly this year. “Right now, we’re irrigating day and night to keep the crops wet,” he stated. Sakata said the challenging portion of the season will come around July 10, when he expects snowpack will be melted, and river flows will diminish. Sakata added that supplies of water that can be pumped may be reduced to 30 percent of water rights available due to state-imposed restrictions.
Onion movement has already begun and will continue through Labor Day. Sakata said cabbage production will ramp up around July 10 and continue through October. Sweet corn will move into the pipeline around July 20 through the end of September.
Sakata Farms markets 70 percent of its commodities outside the Centennial State. The company is a strong supporter of the “Colorado Proud” program, which brands locally grown produce. “All the major chains in Denver are really promoting locally grown produce,” Sakata said.