Daniel Schumacher, Schumacher Gemüse:

"About 10-15 percent harvest loss for kale"

Kale has always been one of the classic winter crops, especially in northern Germany. But in the south there are some suppliers as well and harvesting started about 2 weeks ago. ''Kale was going okay so far: it is not top yields, but they also not nearly as bad as those of red and white cabbage. There the losses are about 40 percent compared to last year, but for kale it is about 10-15 percent,'' says Daniel Schumacher of the vegetable farm with the same name, that generally sells its products directly on the Stuttgart wholesale market.

Quality loss
Due to the relatively high temperatures during the night, the quality of the kale at the start of the season is still not optimal, says Schumacher. ''During the season, kale becomes milder. Currently they are still a bit bitter. We need a bit more cold in that regard, but next week temperatures will be at around 10 degrees." The climate itself is not so problematic, the pests and white flies, however, the more of a hnder. ''With warmer temperatures, the white fly population increases again, which is why we need to brush away more leaves during processing and wash the kale more as well. That leads to about 20 percent more overhead, in the end.''

Picture credits: Daniel Schumacher

Despite the quality problems, the kale is priced at last year's levels, ie between €1.20 and 1.40 per kg. In the coming weeks, the price situation will remain largely stable, Schumacher expects. ''The classic kale time is more in January-February. Until then, a price increase could take place. The kale campaign is usually completed in late February or mid March.''

In addition to kale growing, the family business is also involved in cultivating the so-called Filderspitzkraut, an ancient regional strain that was produced more than 400 years ago by monks. In terms of flavor and appearance, the variety is a cross between white cabbage and pointed cabbage with a finer aroma. It is harvested between August and December, after which it can only be stored for a short time, in contrast to common white cabbage.

The 4th and 5th generation of the family business

Although regionality is in vogue and local products can be marketed quickly, the consumption and production of Filderspitzkraut is declining: ''Per head, this cabbage weighs between 3 to 5 kg, which is simply too much for today's consumers. In the industrial sector there are almost total failure, due to the heat of this year. Although there is still plenty of fresh food available, the weight per capita is between 2 and 3 kg. '' This situation has an effect on the price: currently it is about 20-30 cents per kilo more than last year,'' says Schumacher, who grows the relatively sensitive vegetable on about 3 ha.

Outdoor cultivation
Schumacher Gemüse is a classic producer that is currently run by its 4th and 5th generation. Daniel Schumacher is primarily responsible for field cultivation (including cabbage and leafy vegetables, salads and celery). Father Karl Schumacher markets the products directly on the regional wholesale market in Stuttgart. The kale is a niche product in the assortment and is grown on about 0.5 ha. However, the 'Nordic' vegetables are quite trendy and there is an increasing demand, including that from smoothie manufacturers.

For more information:
Schumacher Gemüse
Wangerhof 1
73257 Köngen
Telefon 07024 / 82973
Telefax 07024 / 84601

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