Optimistic for Vegetable Acreage in 2012 and Beyond

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist; gcjohn@udel.edu

There is potential for increased vegetable acreage in 2012, especially on the processing side. Market opportunities being presented to processors will likely mean increased pea, lima bean, and snap bean acreage. Processing sweet corn is more undecided and pickle acreage should remain about the same. There is also potential for picking up processing tomato acres for the first time in many years.

While processing vegetables do not compete well with corn at current prices, they still are competitive with soybeans and often offer double crop opportunities (soybeans after early sweet corn; soybeans or lima beans after peas; pickles or lima beans after small grain; lima beans, pickles, or soybeans after snap beans; snap beans after sweet corn; etc.).

Acres of processing lima beans are being lost in other regions, especially California. Land and water costs make lima beans less competitive than other higher value crops. Processors are very interested in having more Fordhook lima bean production on Delmarva. When we can get a more stable Fordhook lima variety for the East, we can recapture almost all of that market from California.

On the fresh market side, 2012 watermelon acreage, should cycle back with fewer acres than 2011 with greater concentration on the early market. Fresh market sweet corn acres should remain steady or see a small increase. Fresh and processing potato acres should remain about the same. There should be a small but steady increase in other fresh market vegetables over the next few years. Proximity to markets makes Delmarva very competitive.

The next few years may also bring new opportunities with onions, broccoli, and oriental vegetables.

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