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Bob Donio: New Jersey crops look to be right on schedule

HAMMONTON, NJ — Produce crops coming out of New Jersey are looking to be right on schedule this season, according to Bob Donio, vice president of Frank Donio Inc., here.

The winter was fairly mild, and there was "a lot of rain" during parts of the winter and early spring, but "most spring crops should be on time," Donio told The Produce News Monday afternoon, May 6. And if there were any items that were delayed slightly by rains earlier in the season, he added, "they'll catch up."

Donio6274At Frank Donio Inc.'s new sales area were Joseph Grasso, Robert Delash, Valerie Fanelle, Annie Pape, Wayne Kuehner and George Campbell.Even blueberries — a key item at Frank Donio Inc. as well as at many other New Jersey distributors — "look to be right on schedule," he stated. "If anything, they may be a day or two earlier [than normal]. It's just a matter of what the weather does the next four weeks."

Among the early vegetable items that Donio was handling in good volume in early May were asparagus, red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, Romaine, Boston, radishes, cilantro, dill, spinach, endive, escarole and parsley. "And the quality so far has been good," he said.

While the start of the Jersey blueberry deal was still about six weeks away when Donio spoke to The Produce News, "Pollination on the blueberries looks good so far," he noted, "so there should be a good crop." He added, "So much could happen in six weeks, but you've got to stay positive."

Regarding Frank Donio Inc., "We're expanding into more organics," he said. "Our farms are planting more organic items," such as green squash, yellow squash and cucumbers. Organics and locally grown "are two trends that are growing, and we are continually trying to [reduce] our carbon footprint."

Back in the fall of 2016, the company began a major building project to enhance and upgrade its facility here in the southern part of the state, and that project is now about 95 percent complete, said Donio. Among the few items left to finish is replacing some racks in some of the coolers.

The sales staff has been set up in the new sales area, while the old sales area is now home to the warehouse and logistics managers. A new recreation area has been added as an inviting space for employees "to unwind and decompress" during the course of the long days, noted Donio.