Processed Vegetable Harvest in Canada Stepping Up Amid Drought in U.S.

Fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden. Courtesy of Getty Images and NIFA.

The Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers association says this year’s harvest has been generally good overall, so far, this growing season. While Quebec and Alberta do have some acreage, nearly all of 15 processed vegetable crops are grown and processed in Southwestern Ontario along the north shore of Lake Erie’s western basin.

Processed field tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet corn, green peas, wax beans, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, beets, peppers, pumpkin, squash, lima beans and onions all come under the jurisdiction of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers board, according to Keith Robbins, general manager of the organization.

With stored inventories depleted during the COVID lockdowns along with some other growing regions experiencing extreme weather events this year, Ontario’s vegetable processors are telling their contracted producers to keep harvesting the crops as long as the quality holds up.

Robbins reports that the Green Pea harvest has now wrapped up, but the Tomato crop is right at the beginning of harvest.

“Just starting, beginning this week. Certainly, it will be good for us if we do have a good crop. We’re needing the volume, especially when other jurisdictions are having some challenges. We’ve had some pretty good harvests so far, and there was a lot of inventory used up over the last little bit during Covid years. They’re looking for as good a crop as they can get. They’ve told the growers, if you’ve good the labor, keep doing it. You guys can bring them to the plant, and then they hit the grade, that’s what they’re looking for.”

Wax beans and green beans are also just at the beginning of harvest. And while it’s still too early to call the sweet corn crop excellent, Keith Robbins says that, so far, that crop looks pretty good.

“I think we’ve got a good crop this year. It looked like we got the rain when we kind of needed to have it. The crop’s pretty good from what I’m understanding from our processors. Pea harvest was pretty good. Challenges at the beginning of the year, there’s always an impact when its hot and dry. You always aim for perfect weather and you never get it. But we did get a good crop and they got what they needed. And so Wax Beans and Green Beans, we’re moving into right now.”