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Last rush on for Michigan butternut squash season
Growers of butternut squash in Michigan are busy shipping product out to customers in the lead up to Thanksgiving. It's getting towards the end of the Michigan season and growers are happy with production this year.
"Our growing region is focused in Grant, north of Grand Rapids," said Rick Sible, of Michigan-based Rice Lake Farms. "We are a vertically-integrated company and there is a huge rush right now coming up to Thanksgiving. We harvest the butternut squash from around the start of September until about now, and we ship the product right through until the end of the year. Therefore we will see another rush close to Christmas. It's been a good, steady year here in Michigan and yields were what was expected. The weather has been a little dry at times, but with irrigation we were able to control the moisture. Some growers who do not have irrigation, struggled somewhat."
Canadian season gave competition
Demand for Michigan butternut squash has been fairly good, despite competition from Canadian product as well as Mexico towards the end of the Michigan season. Sible said that butternut squash is considered a must-have in supermarkets, which helps drive a steady demand.
"Growers consider it as a 'staple squash', meaning almost every supermarket carries it," he said. "Therefore we have seen steady demand as Michigan is fairly well recognized for the quality of butternut squash grown here. We have seen stronger years though. We're seeing some pressure at the moment from supplies out of Mexico. Also, there was competition with Canada, where they were enjoying a favorable exchange rate. Mexico affects us less, as they are only starting up now as we near the end of our season, but the Canadian season overlaps significantly."
Organic varieties for next year
Rice Lake are seeing an increasing market for organic produce and have established a partnership to begin an organic squash line from next season.
"We grow a number of products, as well as other types of squash such as Acorn, Spaghetti and Kabocha on our farms," Sible said. "Rice Lake has been certified to pack organic squash by the Global Organic Alliance based in Ohio. We're now ready and have partnered with producers to grow organic squash on our behalf which will become available from next season. We already grow some organic beets, and buyers have been asking for it, so we see great market potential."
For more information:
Rice Lake Farms
Tel: +1 (231) 834-5130
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