Mike D’Ottavio: New Jersey’s 2019 season ‘shaping up very nicely’

vineland, nj — New Jersey’s weather has been “ideal for spring crops, and looking farther ahead, the summer crops look amazing,” said Michael D’Ottavio, president of M. D’Ottavio Produce Inc., here. “This year is shaping up very nicely.”

The Produce News visited the company Tuesday afternoon, May 7, to talk about New Jersey’s 2019 spring produce season.

“Finishing up with our Florida farm allows us to focus 100 percent on the Jersey season,” he said. “I feel we are at least two weeks ahead of last year, and I have my fingers crossed that it is a profitable season for everyone.”

Dottavio6338Michael D’Ottavio and Anthony Castellini in a field of eggplants in early May. Photo by Gordon M. Hochberg.He added, “With many new and exciting products to offer this season, we are first and foremost focused on environmental responsibility, labor, welfare and traceability. As a vertically integrated grower, wholesaler and trucker, we need to do it better, find ways to be more transparent and deliver more information to our customers.”

D’Ottavio said that his company focuses on water conservation by using Natures Eye, a satellite-controlled irrigation program that “saves fuel and uses 35 percent less water than previous watering methods. We also planted additional bee habitats around the blueberries and blackberries to help support pollinations.”

Another area that the company focused on is “better housing for our labor force,” he said. “That’s one area every grower should focus on.”

Growing organically and conventionally “has proven to help us grow our customer base, giving them more diversity when placing orders,” said the company president. “This season we will have an additional 150 acres of fruits and vegetables, dozens of new packs and a much larger organic presence.”

He continued, “With excellent success last season with pole cucumbers, Bell peppers, specialty peppers, eggplants, hard squash, green and yellow squash, wet veg, blueberries and blackberries, we see the demand growing every year for Jersey product, so we planted additional acreage to fill their needs.”

Also, “Adding onto our packinghouse this season gave us the room to establish a new squash and eggplant packingline. We will be able to run two lines this season, allowing us to pack either Bell peppers or cucumbers on one line, and at the same time pack squash or eggplant on the second line.”

Noting the company’s proximity to cities such as New York City and Philadelphia, D’Ottavio said that “our location is ideal for most major cities on the East Coast. Our customers can place an order in the morning, and within 24 hours, our trucking company will have fresh, pre-cooled produce delivered to their door.”

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