"12" of rain greets start of Michigan hard squash season"

Some parts of Michigan have seen tremendous amounts of rain in the past couple of weeks, resulting in some flooding of fields and potentially lost crops. As the hard squash season begins, growers are waiting to see if there has been any damage in the areas affected. At this stage, they can only wait until the fields can be accessed and assessments made. 

"We have had 12 inches of rain in the last 15 days," said Rick Sible of Rice Lake Farms in Michigan. "This level of rainfall is not very good for hard squash at all. We're not sure of what's going to happen to the market as a result. We expect there to be some losses, however machinery can't get into the fields at the moment so currently it's a waiting game. There are lots of unknowns in agriculture and things are very much subject to change. An emphasis on diversification helps to offset some of these losses."

First shipments expected this week despite rain
Harvesting has already commenced however and despite the rain, the first shipments of Michigan hard squash are due this week. Opening the season is Spaghetti squash which is the first variety that will be shipped. This will shortly be followed by Butternut, Acorn and then Kabocha. 

"We are just now getting into the Spaghetti squash," Sible shared. "It is still curing at the moment but we expect the first shipments to be out this week. Butternut squash, which is the next variety, has seen very good demand and is now enjoying a larger consumer base than previously. Additionally, we are seeing rising demand for organic squash."

Rice Lake Farms also has a couple of other squash varieties that they are offering for the first time this year. Sible said the company started growing them based on requests from some of their customers. "This year, we are growing the Sweet Dumpling squash as well as the Delicata, both of which were requested by our customers last year," he said. "The Delicata is a visually good looking squash with striped parallel green lines. Inside it is similar to a Spaghetti squash." 

"We ship in package sizes of a bushel and 1/9, as well as bulk bins in 24" and 36"," Sible continued. "These bulk bins have dividers in them so that we can load two, three or four different varieties in the same bin and have them partitioned off."

Cooking shows and new products raising hard squash profile
Along with other commodities like sweet potato and cauliflower, hard squash is experiencing a boost thanks to people coming up with creative uses for them. There are many new veggie-based products out that are an alternative to existing products and hard squash is finding a place amongst them. 

"Hard squash demand is rising, largely thanks to cooking shows as well as new products," Sible observed. "People are being more creative with how they cook and use squash. Hard squash is also now more widely used as an alternative to potatoes for example, as well as being an ingredient in veggie based products like veggie chips."

For more information:
Rick Sible
Rice Lake Farms
Tel: +1 (231) 834-5130

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