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Grower expands organic production
US kale supplies healthy, prices upDespite the cold temperatures, the hearty-stalked kale supplies are looking equally hearty.
“Supply of kale is good,” says Lois Kim of PPC Farms in Mission, TX. “We had a freeze twice in the past month, but the cold didn’t affect it.” While PPC’s supplies are coming from the Rio Grande Valley region in South Texas, competition is hailing from Florida on the East Coast, Georgia, South Carolina and California.
While supplies are healthy, PPC is in the midst of moving crops from conventional to organic kale. “We have 50 percent more organic and 50 percent less conventional compared to last year,” says Kim. “We have more organics and less conventional because we transitioned more acreage into organics and we plan to continue to do so based on our success.”
PPC also took measures to improve the quality of its crops for 2018. “The quality is extraordinary compared to last year due to improved management and proactive scouting,” says Kim. Those steps include hiring an employee knowledgeable about integrated pest management into its organic production. “And daily scouting coupled with immediate action taken at the first sign of infestation has helped with this year's production,” she adds, noting PPC is also currently experimenting with companion plants, buffers, trap cropping and cover crops.
At the same time, thanks to the recent frigid temperatures on the East Coast, prices have increased on kale. “In early January they were up by 50 percent,” says Kim. “Last year, the unusually warm winter kept the US greens prices depressed. We couldn’t give the stuff away.”
Looking ahead though, Kim anticipates the prices staying high for the next couple of weeks until the East Coast catches up. “And we expect our kale to be very sweet due to the cold snap,” she says.
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