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New York success for Parker Farms comes from relationship with Kludt Bros. Farm

parkerbros Parker Farms is well known in the south for its marketing of broccoli and sweet corn, squash and peppers in partnership with about half a dozen farms on several thousand acres.

But in the summer months, the Oak Grove, VA-based company turns much of its attention to New York state.

“We have one grower partner in New York right now, Kludt Bros. Farm in Kendall, they have a massive farm which includes about 1,000 acres of vegetables, broccoli and sweet corn,” said Sean McFadden, business development for Parker Farms. “They do a large amount of organic product for a processor and they have many thousands of acres of grain.”

Last spring, Kludt Bros. Farm built a state-of-the-art packing shed with ice making facilities and cooling equipment for broccoli demonstrating their commitment to vegetable production in the future.

“If you know anything about building something in the state of New York, it’s like pulling teeth, so that was quite an achievement,” McFadden said. “We’ve been working with them for five years. They are very well situated for growth up there, and it’s a good window for them and us.” Early estimates on the broccoli crop for 2020 look on-time with things expected to begin around the middle of July. Sweet corn will start sometime around July 25 this year, which is normal. “This was our first partner in New York and we have a great relationship with them,” McFadden said. “They are a super hard-working family, with about 11 family members working together, which is quite amazing.”

Kludt Bros. Farm has been hit hard with New York state regulations regarding COVID-19 safety precautions and McFadden noted that meeting the additional regulations designed to keep their employees safe has been challenging. The labor crew has been quarantined to the camp, and only travel back and forth to the fields, with all food brought to them and all laundry done for them.

“Temperatures have to be taken when they enter the field and leave the field,” McFadden said. “They are taking great safety and sanitation measures to keep their employees and the public as safe as possible.”

A goal of Parker Farms is to find a way to keep more of New York-grown product in New York state.

“There are a lot of people in New York and we would like to keep Kludts product in-state as much as we can,” McFadden said. “There are a lot of retailers there and we want to keep things local as much as possible.”

The biggest buzz right now at the company is what’s happening with the price of sweet corn. “We’ve never seen these kind of prices in our entire lifetime,” McFadden said. “The sweet corn market is two to three times normal right now. To be getting that kind of money is tremendous for the growers who have suffered through low markets for years”.

McFadden believes the supply of sweet corn will likely stay tight on through June and into July when Kludt Bros. Farm begins harvesting their sweet corn.

“We’re also seeing a good broccoli market and our hope is that Kludts will also get some of these good prices when it gets up to New York,” he said. 

Photo: Rudolph Kludt, Michael Kludt, Harold Kludt, Gary Kludt, and Matt Kludt.

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