Domestic hot house production of rhubarb is feeling the demand for the product.
“I just don’t have enough rhubarb to take care of my sales,” says Roger Knutson of Knutson Farms Inc. in Sumner, Wa. “The hot house business is a steady business and my volume is about the same as last year.”
With production of hot house rhubarb at this time of year, Knutson notes he has very little competition for product. “There are not many people doing it. Some product gets imported from time to time but I haven’t seen any recently,” he says.
In the meantime, as it outpaces sales, demand for the stalky vegetable is strong. That’s a welcome sign after seeing lighter demand for field rhubarb last year, though the demand strengthened near the end of the season. This was unusual given the overall increasing interest in rhubarb that Knutson has been seeing. “Consumption getting a little stronger—there’s more growth,” he says. “Rhubarb has a lot of good vitamins and fibre and things like that. It’s quite a healthy plant and interest in that is picking up.”
All of this though has made for strong pricing on rhubarb which is similar to pricing at this time last year.
Looking ahead, while Knutson began hot house production in the third week of January, he hopes to stretch out the indoor season until April 1st. “I try but it’s usually done around the third week of March,” he says. “And then the field starts the first of April and runs until mid-October.”