Lingering winter forces late start for some Colorado crops

08/02/2013 01:03:00 PM
Jim Offner

Courtesy Hungenberg ProduceA Greeley, Colo., carrot field belonging to Hungenberg Produce receives irrigation. According to the National Weather Service, Greeley is close to 3 inches behind normal precipitation for the past year, while areas in the southeastern part of the start have seen more significant drought.A late-departing winter and persistent drought conditions have challenged Colorado fruit and vegetable growers, and the deal will start to peak about a week to 10 days later than normal, they report.



“It’s tough, but the crops look good at this point,” said Bob Sakata, owner of Brighton-based vegetable grower-shipper Sakata Farms, which grows sweet corn, cabbage and onions.

Water restrictions have created a few worries about the onion crop, Sakata said.

“We took a chance (in planting them), but it’s nip and tuck right now,” he said. “Everything depends on how the (South Platte) river runs through August.”

In onions, LaSalle, Colo.-based Strohauer Farms has a number of specialty varieties that likely will be ready by Sept. 16, said Tanya Fell, director of sales and retail relations.

The cold spring slowed onion planting and likely will force a delay of about 10 days, said Alan Kinoshita, sales manager for Eaton, Colo.-based Fagerberg Produce Co. Inc.

The company estimated a start of Aug. 5, compared to a normal July 25.

“It was late getting started, with the cold, wind and snow into early May,” Kinoshita said.

Wet conditions delayed planting for onion and potato grower-shipper Martin Produce Co. in Greeley, Colo., said Chuck Bird, owner/manager.

“We’re probably a week to 10 days late, but the crops look great,” he said. “It was just a little late getting started.”

Overall, everything was shaping up well at Rocky Ford, Colo.-based Hanagan Farms, where Eric Hanagan grows peppers, tomatoes, squash, green beans and a number of other items, he said. Summer weather turned for the better and pushed the crops closer to normal, said Jordan Hungenberg, salesman and food safety manager for Greeley, Colo.-based Hungenberg Produce.

“Everything started out a little sluggish due to a little cold weather in March and April. However, the weather in May and June has been awesome,” he said.

“Carrots and cabbage have both caught up to speed very quickly with all the sunshine recently, so, overall, things look great.”


Tree fruit

Freezing temperatures carried into May in some areas, and that came with a price, said Mike Gibson, sales manager with Delta, Colo.-based United Marketing Exchange.

“We lost our cherry crop because of the freeze and we don’t have too many apricots at this time,” he said.

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