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Northampton Growers anticipate a great North Carolina summer crop

On May 10, Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers, told The Produce News that as the company was gearing up for its North Carolina crops, it was still in the process of finishing harvesting in Florida.

“Florida will be done by the end of May,” said Cullen. “The season is unfolding nicely. Prices are holding and the crop is in great shape. The spring season typical comes with good weather, so we hold out hope for a great crop up the east coast with minimal to no glitches. This is especially true when compared to the fall growing season up and down the coast which can bring on strong storms.”

ccsm3aSteve McCready and Calvert CullenWith nearly 60 years of experience, Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., based in Cheriton, VA, is acutely aware of the importance of precision timing in planting and harvesting fresh vegetables in its numerous growing regions. The company follows the growing seasons from Florida to Georgia, then to North Carolina and finally to Michigan. It then reverses its programs and heads back south.

As of early May the company was cutting cabbage and squashes at its Georgia farm. Cullen said the company was still planting in North Carolina, but was scheduled to start harvesting cabbage and green beans on June 1.

“Cucumbers will start June 10 to 15, and peppers will start around June 15,” he said. “We always attempt to plant our North Carolina corn crop so it harvests a week before the July 4 holiday, and we expect it to be its normal time this year.”

Northampton Growers have a full line of commodity crops, and it ships throughout the eastern U.S., the Midwest and into Canada. Its line consists of green, red, Savoy and Napa cabbage, Bell and specialty peppers, zucchini and squash, green, wax and flat beans, cucumbers and pickles, leafy greens, purple and white eggplant, yellow, white and colored corn and a wide variety of hard squashes.

Northampton Growers’ fresh produce is sold under the Plantation brand on product grown in Georgia and Virginia, and the Mattanuskeett brand on product from the Fairfield, NC region.

Cullen’s partner in Northampton Growers is Steve McCready, who also serves as the company’s comptroller.

Cullen said that the change to electronic logging devices for truckers last year has calmed down and is being handled as a normal process now.

“Some drivers did get out of trucking because they didn’t feel they could make enough money, but that seems to have leveled off now. We’re fortunate that we have a reliable fleet of trucks which works to our advantage.”

Labor shortages are another issue that can haunt growers like Northampton Growers every year.

“Georgia is being affected with labor shortages this season, but it’s too early to tell what will happen in North Carolina. Workers sign up about six months in advance to work with a company, but depending on how short labor is, they are sometimes offered more money, so they just don’t show up. This is an annual norm, and something we have learned to deal with.”