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Richard Marolda Jr.: Cold weather delaying New Jersey spring items

VINELAND, NJ — “I would say we’re at least two weeks behind, maybe three weeks, on all the items. Cold weather is the reason, primarily in March. And April was colder than normal.”

That was how Richard Marolda Jr. of Marolda Farms described the start of the 2018 New Jersey spring produce season in an interview on Tuesday morning, May 8, with The Produce News.

Marolda5475Richard Marolda Sr. and Richard Marolda Jr. of Marolda Farms with New Jersey leeks. Photo by Gordon M. Hochberg.He added, “The items won’t catch up all the way, so to speak, but they may catch up a little. The items are almost waiting to explode with the warmer weather [in May], but they can only do so much.”

As to some items that have started, Marolda said, “We’ve been picking spinach for a week. We started new cilantro, methi, dill, arugula, organic arugula and organic cilantro.”

He also mentioned mint, stating, “We’re just getting ready to start our harvest this week. There was some die-off in our mint because of a hard two-day freeze the weekend before Thanksgiving. From what I see dead in the field, I may have lost anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of our mint. But it’s hard to say. And from what I’ve heard, the freeze hurt everybody’s mint.”

Marolda Farms, located here in the southern part of the state, is owned and operated by Richard Marolda Sr. and his wife, Sherry. Richard Marolda Jr. (their son) is the production manager and also spearheads the company’s organic program; those products are shipped under the “Rock & Roll Organics” label.

The company has 350 acres of conventional acreage and 65 acres of organic acreage. But Marolda noted, “I was able to pick up 10 acres in this area, which will go to organic production, most likely to herbs. Seven acres are certified organic, three acres have been fallow for 10 years.”

The company’s lineup is about the same as last year, he noted. Its primary conventional items currently are cilantro, collards, kale and beets, while its primary organic items are cilantro, kale, Tuscan kale and spinach.

“We’re just trying to find some different outlets for our products,” he said.