Vegetable Crop Outlook 2012

Bob Martin

American Vegetable Grower talked to growers from across the country to find out what kind of year 2011 was and what their expectations are for 2012. As you will see from the answers given by the following lettuce, tomato, potato, sweet corn, and bean growers, in spite of all the government regulations and food safety and weather issues, most have high hopes for 2012.

Q1

What kind of year was it for growers in your area?

Q2

What are the prospects in 2012 for you and growers in
your area, and how are they different from 2011?

Q3

If E-Verify passes in its current form without a viable guest    worker program, how will that impact your operation?

Q4

In addition to labor, what will be the biggest overriding
issues in 2012?

Q5

How do you plan to deal with those issues?

We asked several growers the following questions as it related to specific crops:

Bob Martin                                           
Rio Farms,
King City, CA

Q1. Our spring mix program started out with a bang. Yields and quality were some of the best ever, but in June we saw a gradual decline of quality and yields due to foggy, moist mornings which increased the presence of mildew, bacterial leaf spot, and sclerotinia. These conditions have continued to keep quality and yields at bay. Yields and quality of head lettuce were decent, although until early to mid November, the market conditions have been in the tank. 

Q2. I doubt if lettuce or spring mix plantings will be down as there has been a steady and sufficient demand for these products. We are always an optimistic bunch. We can’t afford
to be anything else.

Q3.  Huge! Many crops will suffer for lack of labor. No labor equals no food! Also, think about it: No labor equals no tax base (and income) for the state of California, which is not a good thing for our government, as most other types of businesses already left the state! We definitely need to turn the head lettuce industry into a more mechanized production.

Q4.  I have to believe that probably the issue of over-regulation by government agencies will be the biggest overriding issue in 2012. Cost of compliance is over the top. Impossible water quality standards are continually a hot topic.

Q5. Working with legislators to convey our concerns is a given. They must learn that the cost of over regulation and no labor will move them further away from a balanced budget!

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