Carrot production in Minnesota is growing--particularly organic carrot production. “This is our second year of organics. Last year we started on a small scale to feel out the market and get a better understanding of the growing process and how it would go for us here,” said Matthew Wulf of Fresha based in Morris, Minnesota. “We’re really happy with how it went.”
Matthew Wulf says Fresha expanded both its conventional and organic carrot acreage this year.
Indeed the upper Midwest is a region where organic carrot suppliers are fewer and far between. “But with our conventional program, we felt like there was a good opportunity to add organics to what we were already delivering. So we pushed up the acreage and this year we’ll do about 65 acres of organic carrots,” said Wulf. Fresha’s conventional acreage has also expanded each year since it started in 2019.
The timing of the season started slightly later this year. “We had a cool wet spring pushing us back about two weeks,” he said. Generally, the harvest window is late July to mid-November before the freeze puts a stop to harvest. “We have storage so once we get to mid-October, we’ll start filling our storage as well.”
Demand getting stronger
While the market has been soft for carrots, demand has recently picked up. “It picks up as you get into the cooking season. And with schools in session, that helps as well--not so much in organics but more in conventional,” Wulf said. “But even with demand going up, I’m not really confident pricing will improve much. Anyone growing in a northern climate knows winter is coming so everyone tries to harvest and sell what they have in the field and that can keep the pricing compressed.”
Yet in the long term, Wulf believes its Minnesota location will be an advantage. “We’re trying to support a geography where we can be competitive because of the reduction in freight cost. Our growing costs are very competitive,” he says. “Water availability is good here. Even when we have a dry couple of years, our wells are consistent.”
In the long term, Wulf believes Fresha's Minnesota location will be an advantage in carrot production given freight costs and more.
This year in fact was a hot dry summer and earlier on in the season, Wulf says it was tough on the carrots as they were getting established.
However, all of Fresha’s carrots are grown under center pivot irrigation so it can keep them watered and cooled to help mitigate the heat stress.