Frank Donio Inc. ‘looking forward to a good fall harvest’
The official start of autumn was just about five weeks away when The Produce News spoke to Frank Donio Inc. in mid-August about the season to date and the upcoming New Jersey fall produce season.
“We did have a number of hotter days this summer, but as a whole it was not the hottest season we’ve had,” Annie Pape, who is part of the sales and marketing team at the Hammonton, NJ-based company, said Monday afternoon, Aug. 15. “Last summer was relatively mild, so it seemed a lot hotter by comparison.” She added, “Even scattered high-temperature days can have effects on quality of yield and post-harvest cooling times. We typically have these high-temperature days in the summer, which is why we’ve invested in multiple types of cooling equipment that makes a drastic difference in maintaining the freshness of the produce. We utilize forced air cooling, hydrocooling and vacuum tube cooling technologies at our headquarters, which allows us to remove field heat from almost any item immediately after harvesting.”
Blueberries are a key item at Frank Donio Inc. Asked about this important item, Pape said, “Complex conditions lead to a decrease in yield for New Jersey’s blueberry harvest, which was off by anywhere from 25 to 45 percent.” Blueberry volume at Frank Donio Inc. was lower by similar percentages, she estimated.
“The effects of different weather and pollinating conditions were unpredictable and the impacts were unknown until harvesting was just about to begin,” she continued. “That being said, aside from difficulties right around those hotter days, the quality of the berries harvested was on par with other seasons.”
Asked which vegetable items moved especially well this summer, she said, “New Jersey organics did fairly well this season. There is absolutely an increasing demand for local organics.”
Looking toward autumn, the company executive said, “Our fall season in New Jersey will include the usual players: sweet potatoes, cranberries, hard squash like Butternut, Acorn squash and Spaghetti squash. All of these items have been planted either before the summer season or during the summer season. Some hard squashes begin to be harvested later in the summer and into the fall. At this time there’s nothing significant to report on these items in either direction, and we’re looking forward to a good fall harvest.”
On the personnel front, the company hired Delia Torres on May 16 in the area of human resources.
Finally, as to how the New Jersey fall season fits into the company’s over all design, Pape said, “We provide service to customers 52 weeks, so any New Jersey crop will be featured prominently at our company as local produce is always in high demand. The closer your proximity to where the produce is grown, the better the opportunity is for quality freshness.”