by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Processors will generally be paying a little more for most crops grown by Ontario’s 600 processing vegetable growers this year.
Al Krueger, executive assistant for the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers, says the biggest increase will be in the price of green peas, which is up 22 per cent from last year’s price. Depending on grade, green peas this year will sell from a low of $268.84 a ton to a high of $725.78 a ton.
“The pea crop is the one that is the most challenging,” Krueger says. Last year, growers were faced with rains during the April planting period and with extreme heat leading up to harvest. These are extremes peas don’t handle very well, Krueger says.
Other increases, Krueger says, have been more modest, with sweet corn up 2.75 per cent to $102.50 a ton and green and wax beans up four per cent -a weighted average price increase - with price levels depending on grade and type. Cucumbers, Krueger says, got an increase in arbitration, “but not as much as the board would like.” The 2012 price for cucumbers can be as high as $878 a ton depending on grade and whether the crop is hand harvested. Most of Ontario’s cucumber crop is hand picked.
The final price for hot banana peppers and tomatoes has not been set. The price for hot banana peppers will be reached in arbitration and the price for tomatoes is tied to the price the California Tomato Growers Association negotiates with their processors. That price could be set at any time within the next three weeks
While some vegetable growers have switched to field crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat because of the higher prices those crops are returning, Krueger says they are still reaching the acres they want for vegetable crops.
“There is pressure out there for sure,” he says. “It’s probably changing a little bit but it’s not like there are wholesale changes going on, no.”
In January, Del Monte Canada Inc. was bought out by U.S.-based ConAgra Foods Inc. The agreement included their manufacturing facility in Dresden where tomatoes and beets are processed.
However, the ownership change has not made any difference to growers. “It’s business as usual,” Krueger says. BF