US (NC): Higher temps push pickling cucumbers to be picked earlier

This year’s pickling cucumber crop looks to be right on target for contract grower Nash Produce.

“Pickling cucumbers have a small window of time. We started around the last week of May/first week of June processing cucumbers,” says Tami Long of Nash Produce based in Nashville, NC. “It’s a 6-9 week process so we have a few more of weeks of the harvest.”

While volume is in line with last year’s crop, the higher June heat in North Carolina has pushed the process a bit. “We’ve had more than a few 90-degree days so it’s a bit warmer this June,” says Long. “We were seeing larger sizes in the beginning so we notified the farmers to start picking now. The pickling companies need smaller cucumbers to fit into jars.” Larger pickles get turned into by-product foods such as relishes.

Hydro cooler process
Once picked, the cucumbers are washed, weighed, and sorted by size. The organic cucumbers are processed separately and involve their own hydro cooler---a large, cold shower for the cucumbers. This process creates a protective environment for shipment. The organic cucumbers are loaded into special cartons that take a 12-minute journey through an enclosed shower. For regular cucumbers, the process is slightly different—the truck backs up to the hydro cooler and a large sprinkler soaks the containers or loose cucumbers for one hour.

While the cucumbers are grown on contract, Long notes that organic cucumbers are up. “They’re a little more finicky to grow because of the additional procedures the farmers must follow. More farmers opt to plant conventional because it produces a bigger yield. We have a very solid crop, but have lost a few loads due to the high heat,” says Long. “As a result, the cucumber season will end a little earlier this year.”

For more information:
Tami Long
Nash Produce
Tel: +1-252-0443-6011 x231

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