Rain and heat delayed Ontario spinach

Harvest is underway of overwintered organic spinach in Ontario. “We had a fairly mild winter which helped the spinach survive really well. However, it was then subjected to impacts of the inconsistent weather we had this spring,” says Markus Pfenning of Pfenning’s Organic Vegetables Inc., noting that conditions fluctuated between plentiful rains that delayed the harvest and slowed the growth temporarily to a heat wave with a prolonged period of no rain.

“It ended up working out because, due to the federal workers’ strike in the spring, we had a delay in getting workers. The crop was ready when everyone got here but it was a bit late by about two weeks. So, while we planted a little more than we did last year, our total yield was similar due to the weather.”

Part of the Pfenning's Organic Vegetables team.

Overwintering spinach is one of three ways Pfenning's produces spinach. About a month ago it transplanted greenhouse-grown spinach seedlings and it also grows spinach from seed. Because of this, harvest can start early and continue into fall and sometimes winter. “It just depends on the weather, but we’ve harvested spinach in late December before. It’s something we usually have available for most of the season,” says Pfenning.

Overwintering spinach is one of three ways the grower-shipper produces spinach.

Transition ahead
This season, the overwintered spinach is expected to have a relatively smooth transition in a few weeks to the transplanted spinach. Pfenning also notes that the varieties it works with are different than those of the California spinach consumers are familiar with. “We favor two varieties, one that is better in colder months and one that does better in the summer. None of it does really well in high heat which is why we’ll often gap at the end of July and into August,” he says. “Our spinach is bigger and has a juicier leaf than the smaller flat leaf varieties because this is what grows better in our local climate.”

Demand for local spinach is strong in the spring, particularly right now.

While demand for local spinach is strong in the spring, demand right now is particularly strong and expected to stay consistent. Historically, pricing on this item has been quite variable. “The pricing of import spinach is very high this time of year,” says Pfenning, noting that pricing for local spinach is currently a little over $50CAD/case which is similar to last spring.

For more information:
Markus Pfenning
Pfennings Organic Vegetables Inc.
Tel: +1 (519) 662-3468

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