BENTON HARBOR, MI —Michigan’s vegetable crops are flourishing this summer, according to Oliver Wolfe, a partner with his wife, Judy, in Above All Produce Inc., located on the Benton Harbor Fruit Market, here.
The Wolfes had started shipping Michigan melons and grape tomatoes in mid-July, while Romas kicked off July 26 and round tomatoes began Aug 1. Eggplant and other commodities were set to start in August as well.
Above All has been marketing many of the products grown and packed by Leitz Farms LLC in Sodus, MI, for almost 30 years. Wolfe said Leitz Farms “has not seen tomatoes look this good in a long time.”
“The crops are all great now, and we look forward to a very good deal.” Wolfe said, adding that excessive rain really hurt East Coast growers, which was helping the marketing prospects for Michigan growers.
Michigan’s central location is within a 24-hour truck delivery of much of the United States, he noted. “New York is just 14 hours away. That gives us a great freight advantage over the West. And diesel prices just jumped to $3.99 per gallon.
“I sell all over,” he added. “Basically, east of the Mississippi and the (Upper) Midwest are my priority.”
When The Produce News visited the Benton Harbor Market on a Tuesday in mid-July, the market was very clean and virtually empty, save for cars parked at the Above All offices.
Wolfe explained that there is a flurry of market activity between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. from Sunday to Friday mornings, as a few local growers come to sell their product to local fruit stands. He said that L&M Co. Inc., based in Raleigh, NC, and Steve Miller Produce Inc. in Thomasville, GA, also use the Benton Harbor Market as a shipping point. Also on the market, Matt Johnson Produce is a wholesaler that breaks pallets for local customers.