Sweet corn harvest pleases growers
Sweet corn acreage on the rise nationally, Washington state
By STEVE BROWN
Washington state sweet corn growers had a good year, and next year may be even better.
Tony Bruketta, a contractor at Twin City Foods in Stanwood, works with about 16 growers in Kittitas County. They did "quite well," he said, averaging about 10 tons per acre. "They planted early, but then it kind of stopped when a cold front came in."
Processors are paying $100 to $108 per ton. Prices were up about 5 percent, he said, "but next year we'll likely see prices and acreage increase because of what has been going on in the Midwest." This summer's drought devastated parts of the nation's corn growing states.
Twin City Foods, which has four processing plants in Washington and Michigan, produces conventional and organic frozen sweet corn, green peas, carrots, green beans and baby lima beans.
Washington farmers increased their plantings of sweet corn in 2012, according to the USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service.
The state's crop increased from 72,700 acres in 2011 to 74,300 this year. Harvest is still under way, but yield is expected to be down slightly, from 10.75 tons per acre in 2011 to 10.3 tons. Contracted production will likely be down a bit as well, from 777,250 tons to 765,290 tons.
The U.S. corn crop changed only slightly, with production increasing from 2.6 million tons to 2.7 million tons.
Washington growers also increased their acreage for processing peas and onions in 2012, according to NASS.
Green pea growers will harvest nearly 30 percent more acres this year than last, and the total production will likely be 21 percent higher. The yield from this year's 36,100 acres will be 3.2 tons per acre, about 0.23 tons less per acre than last year.
Nationwide, acreage increased from 159,100 acres to 179,500, a 13 percent jump. Yield per acre also increased, from 1.85 tons to 1.95 tons.
Similar increases were seen in onions, which are still being harvested.
Summer nonstorage onions were harvested from 2,500 acres in Washington, compared with 2,200 last year. Yield increased from 350 hundredweight to 400 hundredweight per acre, raising overall production from 770,000 hundredweight to 1 million hundredweight.
Nationwide, acreage stayed the same year to year at 18,800 acres and production was up slightly, from 10.5 million to 10.8 million hundredweight.
Washington growers of summer storage onions harvested about the same number of acres -- 20,200 -- and yield was up slightly, from 660 hundredweight per acre to 660 hundredweight.
The nationwide acreage grew slightly from the previous year, from 99,230 acres to 99,850, and yield dropped slightly, from 552 hundredweight per acre to 534 hundredweight.
Asparagus acreage in Washington declined 22 percent in 2012, but the total value of the crop dropped only 4 percent. In 2011, 6,000 acres were harvested; in 2012, 4,700 acres. The yield rose from 40 hundredweight to 43 hundredweight per acre, and production dropped from 240,000 hundredweight to 202,000 hundredweight. Prices per hundredweight rose from $78.90 to $90, but the crop value dropped from $18.9 million to $18.2 million.
The U.S. asparagus acreage declined from 27,300 acres to 25,300, and the yield dropped slightly, from 21 hundredweight to 30 hundredweight. The nationwide crop value dropped from $93.5 million to $83.4 million.