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Ringer bumping up Olathe-area sweet corn slightly for 2014

Commerce City, CO — Anticipating some changes in the sweet corn market due to water shortages in the West, Ringer & Son Brokerage Inc. in Colorado expects its Olathe-area sweet corn deal to be up slightly this summer.

Ringer President Joshua Johnson said planting was to commence April 17, and harvest should begin July 8-12. The season is expected to run through Sept. 7, he added.

Answering retail, Mountain Fresh LLC owner Mike Ahlberg and his sons Zach and Seth will grow more bi-colored and yellow and less white this year, Johnson said.

Ringer serves as exclusive sales agent for the corn operation that is located between Delta and Olathe on Colorado’s Western Slope.

ringer-rmm-2014In front of the iconic Denargo sign at Ringer & Son Brokerage in Commerce City, CO, are bookkeeper Kim Witzel and the sales team of Matthew Lee, Debbie Pate, Dayn Borgmann and Gene Schneider.Handling Ringer’s Western Slope peach and pear deal is sales agent Debbie Pate, who said mild weather leading into April had insiders optimistic for a good season. Pate was working the Texas deal in late March and said in addition to rain affecting movement, trucks were also tight.

“But the wildest thing right now is the day-to-day pricing on limes,” she said. “FOB today [March 26] is $120, if you can find them,” she added. Bad weather and disease have taken their toll on Mexican limes, but another major factor has been the Mexican drug cartels hijacking lime trucks and jacking up prices.

FOX News Latino reported on April 1 that in western Jalisco the cost of limes “has risen as much as 600 percent, and nationally the average price for a kilo of limes has risen 147 percent between December and February, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography.”

Working Nogales and then moving into Colorado product, sales agent Gene Schneider said 2014 was looking good so far for Front Range and Arkansas Valley growers.

“We’re calling 2013 bad luck,” Schneider said of a season that brought wildfires, flooding, hail and drought to Colorado farmers. “This is a new year.”

Schneider works with cantaloupe and watermelon growers in the Rocky Ford region of the lower Arkansas Valley. “That area is improving every year, and the cantaloupe and melon deal will continue to grow incrementally,” he said. “I think the valley will be 10 percent higher in cantaloupe, 50 percent higher in honeydew and 20 percent higher in watermelon this year.”

He added, “We’re looking at organic Rocky Ford cantaloupe in a few years. And this year I think we could see a good onion deal in the state.”

Handling California product, Dayn Borgmann said Sunshine State citrus and lettuce were moving well in Colorado markets.

Borgmann said growers have struggled with both freezes and dire water shortages in California, and the water issue in particular could bring on increased demand for Colorado’s sweet corn this summer.

Northwest items are handled by Matthew Lee, who joined the Ringer sales staff a year ago. Lee said movement of potatoes, onions, apples and pears has been steady and quality good. Lee also works with Colorado potato sheds.

The sales team agreed that consumer trends steer retail demand, and Schneider said, “Consumers want that Rocky Ford cantaloupe, those Palisade peaches and that Olathe sweet corn. Colorado does a good job with Colorado Proud [marketing campaign], but the state needs to work harder in promoting specific commodities.”

Schneider summed up the coming season: “The weather has been good, and everything is on track for early planting. The water situation along the Front Range is very good, and everything to do with the state’s produce looks really good right now.”