Lots of crops are running late as local markets open, but strawberries and peas are expected to be of especially good quality due to all the rain.
The cool temperatures and rain have pushed Minnesota produce crops back by two to three weeks, but most of the St. Paul farmers’ market satellite markets in Dakota County are now open.
Markets at the Minnesota Zoo and in Inver Grove Heights will open after July 4, said market manager Jack Gerten.
No vegetables will be missed entirely, but because they are late they may be available for a shorter stretch than last year, Gerten said. Many growers were not able to plant until May. Some acres are still so wet they haven’t been planted, he said.
Even greenhouse tomatoes are ripening behind schedule because of a lack of sunlight.
“The crops will all come through; it’s just going to be a matter of when. But the later it gets, then we start thinking about how early the frost is going to be,” Gerten said.
“That is what we are up against, too. We need to be blessed with a longer fall, not an early fall.”
For people who are canning, “My suggestion to them this year is whenever they see it, if they really want it, they better get it, and don’t wait it out” hoping for a lower price, Gerten said. “If they see what they want and they think it’s the quality they want, I would get it.”
Peppers, beans, tomatoes and corn will be picked later this year. But sugar-snap peas and broccoli thrive in cool weather and potatoes are doing fine, Gerten said.
Growers are looking for warm evenings as well as warm days to get the crops growing, Gerten said.
“We need more sunlight, more heat to get that stuff growing.”
People going to the markets now will find leaf lettuce, spinach, radishes and asparagus. In about a week, strawberries will be ripe. And early new potatoes should be available as well as green onions.
“It should be a great year for strawberries with all the moisture,” Gerten said.
The Department of Agriculture reports that metro strawberry growers expect to open for picking this week, with the peak coming during the July 4 weekend — which is usually the end of the metro strawberry season.
Gerten predicts that “a lot of stuff, once it comes in, if we start getting these 80 to 90 degree temperatures, will be coming in fairly fast.”
For more information on farmers’ markets in Dakota County, see www.farmsandmarkets.com/minnesota/dakota-county/farmers-markets and www.stpaulfarmersmarket.com/locations. □