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Moving northward with good growing conditions gives Northampton Growers a nice edge

It’s been smooth sailing for Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc. since it wrapped up Florida’s winter and spring crops and got past the mid-March freeze in Georgia.

“We got pushed back just a little on a couple of crops in Georgia because of the freeze, but have recovered nicely,” said Calvert Cullen, president of the Cheriton, VA-based company. “We had already started gearing up with our North Carolina programs in mid-April, and we’ll start cabbage there the first of June. We do this so as to not overlap with our Georgia crop. We offer cabbage year-round with no gaps.”

Northampton Growers follows the seasons from South, Central and North Florida, to Georgia, the Carolinas, Virginia and then on to Michigan. It then reverses its growing program and moves back toward the south for year-round supplies of its commodities.

The company grows and ships a full line of commodity crops, and it ships throughout the eastern United States, the Midwest and into Canada. Its line consists of green, red, Savoy and Napa cabbage, bell and specialty peppers, zucchini and squash, green, wax and flat beans, cucumbers and pickles, leafy greens, purple and white eggplant, yellow, white and colored corn and a wide variety of hard squashes.

Northampton Growers’ fresh produce is sold under two brand names: the Plantation on product grown in Georgia and Virginia, and Mattanuskeett — after its namesake lake — on product from the Fairfield, NC region.

Cullen’s partner in Northampton Growers is Steve McCready, who also serves as the company’s comptroller.

Green beans at Northampton Growers are scheduled to begin around the first of June in North Carolina. Squash is scheduled for May 20. Peppers will be ready about the same time as sweet corn — close to the first of July.

“North Carolina sweet corn can vary by just a couple of days,” said Cullen. “Our start date is July 4, but sometimes it begins five days earlier or a day or two later. Sweet corn is a 90 day crop, and North Carolina is our biggest corn deal. For corn you need land and proper equipment set up. We have a little window with North Carolina corn before Michigan starts its movement.”

Plantings are done with precision at Northampton Growers. String beans are ready for harvesting 52 days from planting and squash is ready in 45 days.

Following a strongly competitive market in Florida, Cullen said he was looking forward to moving northward.

“Our southern neighboring countries enjoyed the same great weather resulting in a glut of product available at low prices during the winter and spring in Florida,” he said. “We’re hoping this situation will improve under the new administration. What we want most is an even playing field and a stabilized market.”